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Mayor vex with savannah work

By MIRANDA LA ROSE Monday, June 2 2014

ARIMA Mayor George Hadeed yesterday complained that upgrading work and replanting of the savannah at the Princess Royal Park is sub-standard and the contractor will not be paid until the work meets job specifications.

“We have taken a decision that we are not going to pay until we get value for money,” Hadeed said noting that, “nothing has been paid as yet.” However, he said, “I know the contractor wants to claim payment on the grounds that the work is finished.”

Meanwhile, former Mayor Ghassan Youseph yesterday said Hadeed was “playing politics” with the work and the burgesses. The fact that the work was not done properly is an indictment on Hadeed’s office, Youseph said, noting that the administration changed hands following last October’s Local Government election.

Hadeed told reporters yesterday at the park in Arima that the previous Congress of the People (COP)-led Mayoral administration gave the contractor a contract, “to remove the existing surface and bring in top soil and replant the entire area.”

The area is generally used by the burgesses to play football, windball cricket and for other recreational activities. At present the burgesses are without the use of an open space.

Pointing out some of the shoddy work, Hadeed said, “to our surprise this is what we end up getting. It is in a worse condition than before. It was in a better condition before.” The top soil, he noted was removed and not sufficient soil was replaced.

The borough corporation, Hadeed said took the contractor to the site almost two weeks ago and asked for a report on the status of the work. Since then, the mayor said, “we have not seen the contractor.”

He said the surface of the ground is uneven and as it is below the level of the adjoining pavement and adjacent field, when the rains come the ground will be transformed into a pond. The soil is loose and the grass is planted far apart resulting in some soil erosion.

While the works are ongoing, Hadeed said it was a health hazard to burgesses and the dust it produced affects patients at the Arima Hospital which is in close proximity. The contract was in the sum of $1.2 million.

But Youseph told Newsday that the Arima Borough does not have the authority to award a contract over $1 million. That contract, the former Mayor said, was awarded by the Central Tenders Board.

Like Hadeed, Youseph also said it was awarded just before the Borough changed control from the COP to the PNM following local govt elections. However, the upgrading and replanting work, Youseph said, did not start under his watch but under Hadeed.

“He (Hadeed) should have had his councillor in charge of the Sport Committee visit the site every other day to ensure the ground was what they wanted and personnel from the Works Department supervising the work according to specifications,” Youseph said.

If he was still mayor, Youseph said, “I would have been checking on it. We made the policy decision and we allocated money for that.”

Hadeed, he said, “could not have been sleeping for seven months and wake up one day to find that the work was bad. The works were going on under his watch.” Efforts to contact the contractor yesterday for comment were futile.

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