June 27, 2017

Jagdeo slams Govt for peddling misinformation

 – says APNU/AFC deliberately inflating value of Pradoville 2 houselots

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo

Former President Bharrat Jagdeo has proven that the disputed removal of the National Communications Network (NCN) transmitting tower did not form part of the cost of the development of the Pradoville 2 Housing Project, as he defended the prices at which the lands in the housing scheme were sold.

Jagdeo, owner of a property in the controversial housing scheme, railed against assertions that the lands were undervalued because the cost of removing the transmission mast was included in the net price.

The Opposition Leader during a recent press conference presented correspondences which predate the development of Pradoville 2, to prove that the tower was removed for the sole purpose to facilitate the Ogle International Airport (renamed the Eugene F Correia International Airport) Expansion Project, and not for the development of the housing scheme as perpetuated by others.

He slammed the coalition Administration for deliberately inflating the value of the house lots; an assertion which has been presented in the audit reports and being used by investigators even though public records verify that the tower was removed for the airport expansion initiative.

“Every time, including from the audits, the Government speaks, they convey the impression that the sole purpose of removing this mast was for the establishment of the housing scheme and they put the expenditure of removing the mast and shifting it elsewhere to the development cost of the housing scheme. This is how it’s spun all the time… this is public record. They would have this information but why do they persist,” he explained.

The issue of the tower, which was since relocated to La Parfaite Harmonie, West Bank Demerara (WBD), came up for scrutiny during the ongoing probe of the housing scheme.

The Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) has since arrested and detained several former prominent Government officials under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) regime, in connection to their role in the development of and/or purchase of lots in the Pradoville 2 scheme.

In fact, after meeting with SOCU officials at the Camp Road Headquarters on Wednesday, former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds told reporters that he was questioned about the transmission tower that was previously located in Sparendaam, on the East Coast of Demerara. At the time, he was Prime Minister with responsibility for the aviation sector.

Hinds had explained that talks for the removal of the transmission tower begun in 2004, some seven years before it was actually relocated to allow for the airport’s expansion. He noted that there are documents to support this.

Public Communications Consultant of the Eugene F Correia International Airport, Kit Nascimento had also confirmed on March 10 that the tower was indeed removed to facilitate the expansion project.

In a letter dated April 19, 2004, between Anthony Mekdeci, then Manager of the Ogle Airport and Rawle Edinboro, then Town & Country Planning Officer at the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), the removal of the transmitting mast was discussed.

“It is in the interest of the Airport that plans commenced to have this mast removed or reduced in height since in its present location, it penetrates the obstacle clearance limit of the new runway development and it is a hazard to aviation,” Mekdeci stated in the letter.