MEMBER of Parliament for North East St Catherine Gregory Mair yesterday called on the contractor general to look into what he says is the suspicious circumstances under which a water storage tank in his constituency disappeared, after he paid out $4 million from his Constituency Development Fund (CDF) to the National Water Commission (NWC) for it to be repaired.
Mair told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that he suspects a “cover-up” in the matter, accusing the parish council of being involved in the disappearance of the 8,000-gallon tank, which he said, when in operation, had served some 2,000 residents.
The MP said he has not been able to get any answers from the NWC, which the money was paid to, the police, or the parish council.
“I don’t know what is going on, but I do know that I gave $4 million of my allocation to the NWC, based on a letter they wrote. The NWC by now should have pressured the police. We had a plan, we would get the system working and then deal with the distribution. A month after the last tranche (of money) was paid the tank was dismantled [from its base and removed],” Mair said.
He explained that the tank is the property of the NWC, but that he had agreed to pay for the repairs out of his own CDF allocation because the agency had for many years said it did not have the funds to repair the tank, which served residents of Top Crawle, Riversdale, and surrounding areas.
In a press release yesterday, the MP said in March he received reports that the aluminum tank had been removed from the site by “politically connected” persons. He further said that while acting president of the NWC, Mark Barnett, later advised him that investigations had confirmed that the tank was in fact “stolen”, he said he could not provide Mair with a copy of the company’s internal report.
“The update from the police so far has not identified any suspect, additionally our internal investigations in the matter are ongoing. Unfortunately we have not been able to identify any person or persons who may have been involved,” Barnett said in an e-mail to Mair.
Yesterday, the St Catherine Parish Council said it was not involved in the removal of the tank. Acting secretary/manager Andre Griffith told the Observer that the superintendent of roads and works had advised him that the parish council had “nothing to do with the removal”, and that there were no paperwork with the council, for any works to be carried out at the site where the tank was removed.
Mair has also called on the CDF project management unit to intervene in the matter.