...Ministry working to crack down on 'Self Help' scams
Minister of Local Government Suruj Rambachan plans to crack down on people who have been scamming the National Self Help Commission.
Rambachan, who assisted with the distribution of 15 Self Help grants at the Beetham Estate yesterday after the opening of a pedestrian bridge at Ninth Street, said he was aware of illegal activities taking place within the system and was working on eliminating it.
At least four single mothers received grants worth $10,000 to repair their roofs during the distribution of grants yesterday.
"We have discovered hardwares where the Self Help vouchers are being sent where they raise their prices. Those people will be eliminated from the system. I have asked that the chairman of the Self Help Commission do an entire review of all of those hardwares.
"There are also some of those hardwares when the Self Help vouchers are given, instead of giving the people the material, they give the people some of the cash. That too will be eliminated.
"That means I am going to be putting in a little more auditing, a little more quality assurance into the programme."
Chairman of the National Self Help Commission, Surujdeo Mangaroo, said the total cost of the pedestrian bridge opened yesterday was a little more than $100,000 because a contractor had to be hired.
"Self Help provides the material in most communities but in this case looking at the technical layout, we had to hire a contractor to get the job done properly because this is not a simple project.
"It may appear to be simple but it required a lot of technical input because we are dealing with the safety of the people."
He said Self Help would need to do at least two other pedestrian bridges at Beetham as well as several other projects including the refurbishment of a privately-owned primary school in the community.
"We are refurbishing a building for them, a privately-owned primary school, at a cost of maybe a little less than $200,000. We intend to do that this summer holiday so when school reopens in September the children will have proper accommodations."
Rambachan added that the drainage project, running parallel to the Beetham, which was started in 2007 by the East Port of Spain Development Co to develop the drainage system between Phases One to Four of the Beetham, was a large one and the Ministry of Local Government was collaborating with the Ministry of Works on the project.
"I believe that this should be a well-cemented concrete drain because it needs to be done in a proper way," he said.