Stemming from a recent meeting with the Business Ministry (MoB), the United Minibus Union (UMU) now has at its disposal a draft of the Code of Conduct for Minibus Operators.This was last week related to this newspaper by President of the UMU, Eon Andrews, during a telephone interview. Andrews said he expects to again meet with the Business Minister by November 25, to make any changes to the draft which may be necessary, and to have it implemented.According to him, the UMU and the MoB collaborated to produce the document, but “there are some adjustments we may need to make”.He explained, “Well, the Ministry has agreed to what is there, but if there is any little adjustment we need to make, we can do that quickly; and then it will be put forward by the union, endorsed by the Ministry”.The importance of having a standard code of conduct set for those operators — since the system is currently “out of control” — was reiterated by Andrews during a previous interview.Andrews disclosed that some of the areas the Code of Conduct is intended to address are: operators’ mode of dress; general conduct, such as not overloading buses, not playing loud and lewd music, not driving under the influence of alcohol; and the way operators speak to passengers.Andrews pointed out that, as promised, the UMU had meetings with representatives of the various bus routes, and according to him, they all endorsed the draft Code of Conduct.Andrews had, last month, assured that after the draft was created, representatives of the various minibus routes would be summoned to meet with the Business Ministry and the UMU, and those representatives would inform their drivers of what is expected of them.Andrews had said the Code of Conduct was extremely vital, especially with the potentially lucrative oil and gas sector expected to come on stream by 2020.He explained that the sector would reel in tourists and other important persons who would, at some time, have need to use public transportation, whose operators are presently unprepared to be the ambassadors they ought to be.The UMU had initially announced plans to establish a Code of Conduct for Bus Drivers back in August, when plans were revealed to increase minibus fares by $20 for 10 operating routes.The announcement to set a standard code of conduct for public transportation operators was well received by passengers, as far too many commuters would have vented their anger on social media at the ruthless behaviour of drivers in the different routes.Although some passengers have welcomed the initiative, others have been more concerned about the drivers living up to what is expected of them.In relation to this concern, Andrews has assured that a hotline would be implemented to facilitate passengers making reports of breaches made by transportation providers in this regard.
More than 100 people died in two Indian States after drinking bootleg alcohol, Police and media said on Monday, in the worst such case in years.Many of those who died in Haridwar in Uttarakhand State and two districts in neighbouring Uttar Pradesh complained of stomach pains and respiratory problems, relatives and officials said.Police have arrested four people in connection with the deaths, Haridwar Senior Superintendent of Police Janmaijai Prabhakar told Reuters.“Total casualties in Haridwar remain at 36 and right now around 18 people are undergoing treatment,” he said.A woman is consoled after her husband’s death from bootleg alcohol in Saharanpur, northern State of Uttar Pradesh, IndiaOfficials in Uttar Pradesh could not be reached for latest casualty figures on Monday, but at least 69 people have died in the State, according to newspapers Indian Express and Times of India.Deaths from illegally-produced alcohol, known locally as “hooch” or “country liquor”, are a regular occurrence in India, where many cannot afford branded spirits.But the current death toll is believed to be the deadliest outbreak since a similar case killed 172 in West Bengal in 2011.“He complained of severe stomach ache, so I took him to get an injection,” the wife of one victim, Hira Lal, told Reuters partner ANI. “He was better then and slept after coming back home. (But) the pain resumed, so we took him to the hospital again and they admitted him.”The District Magistrate of Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh, Alok Kumar Pandey, said last week that doctors had concluded many victims died “due to liver infection and problems in their respiratory system”. (Excerpt from Reuters)
A Guyanese man is facing human trafficking charges in the United States after allegations that he engaged in sexual activities with a minor who had been trafficked by a relative.Latchman KaladeenLatchman Kaladeen, 49, of Wesley Chapel, Florida, was on May 17, 2019, identified by the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office in Florida as one of nine men allegedly involved in sexual activities with the same minor.The men were charged with human trafficking, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and unlawful use of a two-way communication device.Kaladeen, according to Hernando Sheriff Al Nienhuis, was previously deported in 2005 and is currently on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer and is expected to be deported again once the current case is completed.According to Sheriff Al Nienhuis, Kaladeen had also been arrested last year for solicitation of a prostitute and was able to avoid a detainer by using one of several aliases which the department has identified.According to a report in the Tampa Bay Times, the Sheriff’s Office received an anonymous tip in May 2017 about ads on the now-shuttered website, Backpage, featuring the girl. An undercover operation was launched within 24 hours and led investigators to a filthy Hernando County home with bare concrete floors strewn with animal urine and faeces, the Sheriff said, where the victim lived with the accused trafficker. The victim was taken to a safe house for juvenile victims of trafficking outside the area.According to the report, the two-year investigation relied on interviews and documents to work through the prior six months, Nienhuis said. Investigators found that the accused trafficker posted the ads on Backpage and took money from clients, and sometimes left the girl with them overnight in other counties. Also arrested were Luigi Barile of Spring Hill who was arrested in Hernando County, Matthew Doyle of Spring Hill arrested in Hernando County, Joseph Easton of Inverness, Bryan Joseph Giguire, James William Hancock, Shawn Christopher Henson, Jason Michael Raulerson and Lawrence Edward Kemble. Doyle is a 39-year-old Fire Service lieutenant, while Luigi Barile is a 38-year-old restaurateur and co-owner of the popular Chefs of Napoli II.
Carifesta XIVThe graceful yet compelling movements of the dancers from Guyana’s delegation, on Saturday evening, had members of the audience calling for an encore. Wrapped in soft flowing garments, and swaying to melodious music, the dancers gave every lift of the arm, every dip of the torso every twirl deep meaning. The choreography enthralled the audience and did Guyana proud.Scenes from Guyana’s “Decades of Dance” choreographed by Vivienne Daniels at the Queens Hall Theatre in Trinidad for CARIFESTA XIV’s Dance ShowcaseThe dance troupe, which included members of Guyana’s National Dance Company, performed ‘Decades of Dance’ created by Vivienne Daniels at CARIFESTA XIV’s Dance Showcase. The event was held at the Queens Hall Theatre in Trinidad.Richard Ambrose, a delegate from the St Lucian contingent told the Department of Public Information (DPI) that Guyana’s presentation took his breath away. He said this demonstrates the nation’s cultural and creative industry is going in the right direction.“It was beautiful to see Guyana represented because we do not know everything about your art and culture. The dancers were amazing; there was a lot of passion… a lot of energy, a lot of effort towards great technique… so kudos to those young people,” he said.Another delegate from St Lucia, Christopher Duncan said he could not take his eyes off the performance, “not even for a moment”.“Spectacular is the word I use to describe it. There was one male dancer in particular… he defined purpose, drive and determination…to see him flow with that flexibility …it was wonderful…the rest I think spoke for itself, it was magnificent,” he said. Duncan said he will be keeping a close eye on the dancers moving forwardBefore the Guyana dance troupe bowed out for the night to enjoy the rest of acts slated, some of the members shared with DPI their thoughts about their performance.Sattie Udho, said, “it felt amazing to perform with such amazing artists and represent our country… we felt it deep in our hearts that we made Guyana proud.” Maresha Arthur was pleased with the group’s performance. “It was a wonderful experience to be able to represent my country putting my best foot forward while being an ambassador for my country. Our performance is a memorable one.”It is expected that Guyana’s “A year in a day” dramatic presentation set to take centre stage, on Sunday evening, will truly capture the essence of Guyana and its citizens in a microcosm.
– as Region 10 Tourism Association hosts Diaspora tourMembers of the Diaspora were treated to a Diaspora tour of Linden and interactive luncheon on Monday, facilitated by the Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) Tourism Development Association (RTDA).A section of the gathering on MondayThe initiative saw more than 20 members from the Diaspora participating thus allowing them an opportunity to view numerous tourism sites in the community as well as seek out possible approaches to collaborative investment.The members were drawn from countries such as the United States, Nigeria, Jamaica and others who are part of the Diaspora Committee.Following a tour of various sites in the community, an interactive luncheon was hosted at the Watooka Complex, which saw numerous presentations whereby members of the Diaspora were given an opportunity to interact with officials.Speaking at the event, Minister within the Agriculture Ministry, Valerie Adams-Yearwood pointed to agriculture and its impact on the tourism sector.Linden Chamber of Industry, Commerce and Development (LCICD) President Victor Fernandes, in his remarks, encouraged the members of the Diaspora to seek opportunities to invest in the community, noting that it was “ripe for investment” as he pointed to various prospects such as eco-tourism and hospitality.Fernandes said plans were in place to make Linden one of the main destinations in Guyana with its natural habitat, flora and fauna, location alongside Demerara River and countless heritage sites. The river, he noted, can be the site of packaged tours, while pointing to festivals such as the Rockstone Fish Festival. In the area of infrastructure, he pointed to the future development of the Linden Airstrip and the construction of a major road linking Guyana to other parts of the world. Fernandes also added that there were incentives for investment through GO-Invest.Tourism Department Director General Donald Sinclair extended a warm welcome to the Diaspora members, noting that they were now experiencing “a new Guyana “from a tourism standpoint.He said the international market has taken interest in what the country has to offer in terms of eco- and nature tourism. Sinclair boasted that the country has gained much prominence as it was recently voted the number one eco-tourism destination in the world.
The Dharmic Kendra at Prashad Nagar in Georgetown came alive with intricate rangolis all depicting a different theme. The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha’s annual rangoli competition is a time when students display their creative side and compete for the top prize and bragging rights.Marian Academy’s winning rangoliThis year, along with bragging rights also came a brand new computer for the winning school. That coveted prize went to Marian Academy, whose rangoli resonated well with the judges.Rangoli is an art form, originating in the Indian subcontinent, in which patterns are created on the floor or the ground using materials such as coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals. It is usually made during Diwali or Tihar, Onam, Pongal and other Hindu festivals in India.Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa poses with the Cacique Accounting College teamDesigns are passed from one generation to the next, keeping both the art form and the tradition alive.The word rangoli is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘rangavalli’ which means colour. The purpose of rangoli is decoration, and it is thought to bring good luck.Gracing the occasion was Indian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr KJ Srinivasa, who used the opportunity to extend his Diwali wishes as well as commit to further collaboration between the Sabha and his country.The winning team receiving their prize from Attorney-at-Law Ganesh Hira“This has been a mini-exhibition of Indian culture. A mini exposition of the interest of Guyana and its youth in this amazing tradition of rangoli. Diwali is the festival of lights as you know and I was simply amazed when I was passing through one of this rangoli. A boy was explaining to the judges the significance of his team’s rangoli and especially Maha Lakshmi,” he noted.It was all good luck for Marian Academy when their team of creatives was adjudged the winners of the competition. Rounding off the top five schools were Mae’s School, St Roses High, Bishops’ High and Cacique Accounting College.Students completing their rangoliRegion SixOver in the ancient county, Cumberland Primary dethroned Gangarram Primary in the Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) rangoli competition for primary schools held on Thursday. The event was organised by the Department of Education and saw defending champions Gangarram, as well as Betsy Ground, Sheet Anchor, Bohemia, Cumberland and Edinburg Primary participating.Among the things focused on was the ability to describe the rangoli and to interrupt it, the use of colours and aesthetics skills.Secretary of the East Berbice Pranit of the Guyana Dharmic Sabha, Omesh Seepersaud explained that even though the event is not on the Department of Education’s calendar of activities, it was initiated by the Guyana Dharmic Sabha.It is the second year that the event has included primary schools in the region.“Because Gangarram Primary won last year they are the hosts this year. We are happy that Gangarram Primary would have taken the initiative to ask the Gangarram Vishnu Mandir to host the competition got them. We initiated this event with the aim of propagating and sustaining our art and our culture. We have been doing this for a number of years but it is not only the second year that we have introduced it to primary schools,” Seepersaud said.In the end, Cumberland Primary emerged as the winner with Gangarram Primary in second and Bohemia Primary, third.According to the Times of India, Rangoli may have originated in India even before the origin of the Hindu epics, because rangoli is mentioned in the epics. Today, rangolis are made on floors and walls for decorating houses during festivals and other joyous occasions like marriages.The religious significance is that gods are attracted to rangoli and hence while inviting a god into a house, the house should be decorated with rangoli.
Forensic audit – $1.8B spent on unjustifiable repairsThe National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has been spending millions of dollars over the years to buy machinery for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) without any clearance from the Board of Directors or cabinet, according to the forensic audit conducted last year.The audit report was published on Friday by the Ministry of Finance and was done by Nigel Hinds and Clement DeNobrega, covering the period November 1, 2011 to May 31, 2015. In the report, Hinds pointed out that NDIA purchased 10 Hyundai R220 LC excavators valued $295 million and tractors with harrows costing some $198 million for GuySuCo in 2013, amounting to $493 million. According to the auditor, the excavators were on the Asset listing provided by finance staff but they were not described as NDIA property and were registered in the name of GuySuCo.He further noted that the registrations for the tractors and harrows were not available as those were still with the supplier and were not even on the listing provided. Those tractors were supplied directly to GuySuCo for drainage and tillage.In addition, he disclosed that one excavator was purchased and registered in the name of Ministry of Public Works at a cost of $27 million but was shown on NDIA Asset Listing.“There has to be a clear Policy Guideline to inform Finance Staff as to what items of machinery and equipment should be included on its asset listing and reasons why items purchased with NDIA Funds are excluded; instead of having NDIA appearing as a banker for GuySuCo,” Hinds outlined.According to Hinds, when NDIA was de-linked from the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in 2004, it received capital assets upon its establishment as a separate entity. The analysis of the registration documents of machinery revealed that ownership of the machinery NDIA acquired from the ministry was never vested in the authority.This practice, the auditor said, continued well into 2014 when some 25 excavators procured for NDIA were registered in the name of MoA. He noted that while there were some units that were correctly registered to NDIA, some other machines are described as owned by “MOA & NDIA”.It was further observed that the 10 excavators that were bought for GuySuCo, are registered as owned by the MoA and are listed as “MOA NDIA Property”. These excavators are listed as located at GuySuCo and the transaction would be dealt with under capital expenditure since it appears as though NDIA acted as a bank to the Sugar Corporation.The auditor noted that management could not provide any explanation for this irregular practice.Moreover, it was disclosed that a letter was written by then Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO), R.Singh, to NDIA CEO, Lionel Wordsworth, in June 2013 for the authority to provide short-term financing for 10 Holland Tractors to the tune of $161.9 million. The auditor explained that while this money was repaid on January 3, 2014, NDIA had used funds from its own budget to fund that request and this would have impacted on its plans for the 2013 fiscal year.In addition to these purchases, Hinds said NDIA also constructed pumping stations valued $146 million based on figures seen in its Capital Expenditure Plan.“It is still not clear why tractors with harrows used primarily for tillage by GuySuCo would have been purchased by NDIA.More importantly there was no evidence from the Board Minutes reviewed that this matter was discussed at the Board level. Even the letter written by Mr. R.Singh, DCEO of GuySuCo was not presented to the Board,” the auditor posited.On the other hand, Hinds revealed too that NDiA expended over $1.8 billion from both its capital and current budgets during the period 2011 to 2014 on repairs and rehabilitation of machinery without any proper justification as to what the monies were spent on specifically. “No one from management could provide any justification for the level of expenditures on repair works, which was done by contractors… Minutes of the Board Meeting showed members were not told at any point of the massive repair costs or provided with cost reports for discussion and decision making as to the level of expenditures,” the auditor stated.Hinds noted that in some cases, vague descriptions were written on work orders about the repairs but the invoice values attached were huge. Furthermore, the auditor said Head of the authority’s Mechanical Division, Avinash Singh, had revealed that he was aware of the high costs of repair works on machinery and equipment and agreed that the sums spent did not make financial sense, thus, should be halted immediately“There were several memos exchanged between the CEO, Mr Lionel Wordsworth and Mr Avinash Singh on this matter but little or no action has been taken to date to address the high repairs costs,” the auditor found.Furthermore, he outlined that based on contracts examined for the years 2012 to June 2015, which amounted to some $587 million out of $896 million, it was revealed that 93 per cent of the amount spent was on repairs and rehabilitation of machinery and equipment, and the remaining seven per cent on spares and supplies.According to Hinds, this suggested a preference for external repairs rather than for repairs to be done in house. However, he noted Singh had argued that NDIA was not equipped to handle its own repairs because of the absence of mechanics and other resources.To this end, contracts to the tune of $547 million were awarded to 52 contractors for repairs and maintenance out of which 72 per cent or $392 million were awarded to eight contractors.
A man is now dead and his son hospitalised after a kerosene lamp exploded in their Warren Village, East Coast Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) home.Dead is Deodat (only name), called ‘Ziggy”, age 58, while his 16-year-old son, Mark Deodat, is now a patient at the Georgetown Public Hospital suffering third degree burns.According to reports, the incident occurred on Tuesday evening. Deodat was being treated at the New Amsterdam Hospital for his injuries but died on Thursday evening.Guyana Times understands that the lamp was alight when Deodat attempted to refuel it. It the process it exploded, showering the man and his son, who was in close proximity, in the flammable liquid which ignited.Neighbours heard screams and saw fire in the house at about 20:00h on Tuesday. The cane harvester’s wife quickly summoned her 21-year-old son; Mark Deodat, who was out of the house and he reportedly gathered clothes and used it to extinguish the flames from his father and then his brother.Neighbours assisted by throwing water on Deodat while his son jumped into a barrel containing water which was situated nearby.The 16-year-old received burns to his upper body while his elder brother received minor burns in his attempt to save his father and younger brother.The house was extensively damaged from the explosion.
– wraps up grant programme with GuyanaBy Vahnu ManikchandAfter finally releasing the last instalment of its sugar grant last year, the European Union (EU) has now closed the programme, which saw Guyana benefiting from some $348.5 billion budgetary support to aid in sugar sector reform.This is according to the EU Ambassador to Guyana, Jernej Videti?, during a press conference on Thursday. The Ambassador noted that while the last grant was issued in 2013, it was not released to Guyana until last year after the country failed to meet the necessary indicators/criteria required.EU Ambassador Jernej Videti? (sitting) with other representatives from the local Mission including Head of Cooperation Christof Stock (first from left) at Thursday’s news conference“The last payment under the sugar programme was delayed; it was put on hold because we were waiting for the eligibility criteria to be met. So this payment was executed in October 2016,” Videti? told reporters.However, he added that the disbursement of this last instalment brings the curtains down on the sugar grant which will officially end on September 30. “There’re no more funds in there from this protocol… This is it,” the EU Head of Mission asserted.The EU Sugar Grant was established to compensate for the 36 per cent cut in preferential market price after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) had ruled that the preferential market access violated global free trade rules.A total of 1.28 billion euros were allocated for disbursement to the sugar protocol countries benefiting from the programme to help them adapt to the new market conditions. Guyana received its first instalment in 2006.According to Ambassador Videti?, the EU grant was to support the restructuring of the sugar sector and not for a policy design. The latter, he noted, is the sole competence and responsibility of Government.In fact, Head of Cooperation at the EU Mission in Guyana, Christof Stock, pointed out that while the monies were to support reform within the sugar sector, the EU had no actual involvement in that process.“…When we are doing budget support programme, which is to increase the ownership of the country of the programme, the money goes into the Treasury and the only influence we have is to check against the indicators – how the indicators are reached and that’s out of our responsibility. But this is a system which basically follows the Millennium Goals agreed and in order also to give those countries benefiting from budget support, the possibility to increase their ownership and to integrate the funds into their respective policy,” he explained.On Wednesday, a local online news entity reported Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Errol Hanoman, had said that the company is seeking the EU’s assistance to conduct a technical study on the feasibility of producing plantation white sugar here.However, when questioned about this at Thursday’s press conference, the EU Ambassador indicated to media operatives that he is unaware of this.“I’m not aware of this (or) that we would be involved in anything like that,” Ambassador Videti? said.Nevertheless, Stock explained that projects in the field of technical assistance to governments are done on a request basis. To this end, he noted that such collaboration can be possible.“Yes it is possible under request from Government; however, we haven’t received such a request so that’s not an issue now for us,” Stock stated.The Guyana Government has moved to downsize and diversify the heavily indebted and cash strapped sugar industry. A move, which has since attracted countrywide protest action with many, including the parliamentary Opposition and the largest sugar representation body GAWU (Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union), calling on the coalition Administration to reverse its decision.Agriculture Minister Noel Holder recently presented a ‘White Paper on the Future of the Sugar Industry’ to the National Assembly, revealing plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo.
A 53-year-old ex-Policeman turned security guard, Deon Aaron, was unanimously found guilty of raping a three-year-old female relative when the matter came to an end at the Sexual Offences Court on Wednesday.The jury took about two hours to arrive at the verdict. Justice Jo-Ann Barlow delayed Aaron’s sentencing to November 8, 2018 after his lawyer, Madan KissoonConvicted child rapist: Deon Aaronrequested a probation report be prepared on his client’s behalf.Although Aaron denied the offence earlier this month before his trial started, he stood with little expression when the jury forewoman announced the guilty verdict. Aaron was remanded to prison until his sentencing. It was alleged that he sexually penetrated the child between March 1 and October 20, 2016 at an East Bank Demerara village. Attorneys Abigail Gibbs, Seeta Bishundial and Tiffini Lyken prosecuted the ‘rape of a child under-16’ case.Reports were that the child was left in the man’s care when her mother was not at home. However, when the woman returned, her daughter complained of feeling unwell. After an investigation, the ex-Policeman was arrested, charged and later released on bail. Aaron had been committed to stand trial in the High Court in March 2018 following his arraignment in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts in February 2018.