Head of Asphalt Plant removed; Edghill says more restructuring looms

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Shortly after he confirmed the resignation of Rawlston Adams as General Manager of the Demerara Bridge (DHB) Corporation, Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill revealed that the head of the Asphalt Plant at Garden of Eden, East Bank Demerara, has also been removed.

Troy Halley no longer holds responsibility for the operations at the plant, where an audit uncovered that massive misappropriations took place in the spending and management of the state-run entity. According to Edghill, Halley was not fired and will continue to work at the DHB Corporation.

“Mr Halley, the person who was responsible for the Asphalt Plant, has been removed from the Asphalt Plant and has been resent to the DHB,” Edghill said during an impromptu press conference Wednesday.

Halley was once a manager attached to the Harbour Bridge, following which, he was seconded to head the Asphalt Plant; he now returns to his original post at the DHB.

Edghill had earlier presided over a meeting at the DHB to oversee the transfer and the transition to ensure the entity continues to function in a viable manner following Adams’ resignation.

“There is an interim arrangement how the bridge and plant will be managed until the board is able to put in place the necessary mechanisms for interviews, shortlisting and appointment of a General Manager,” the Public Works Minister said.

With Adams resignation and the removal of Halley, Edghill said more restructuring will be done in the coming days.

“These actions are necessary actions to ensure public confidence, and the public cooperation as it relates to public news. The audit report or investigative report on the Asphalt Plant has been quite revealing and damning and I don’t need to repeat all the issues.”

Edghill said his expectation is that the DHB will be returned to an efficient, well-managed and accountable. Among the main findings in the report is that Adams authorised the purchase of an $897,000 gold bracelet for himself as a gift; he has reportedly begun repaying for the bracelet even as more revelations on gift buying were made.

In relation to the operations of the Asphalt Plant, the report also revealed that the management and sale of the asphalt were poorly done. The report said no credit policy or credit approval limit was in place.

Trucks collecting asphalt at the Garden of Eden location would travel several miles to the Demerara Harbour Bridge to weigh the asphalt while there is a location closer that could facilitate this at a lower cost.

The report also found that the agency purchased cold mix from a Trinidadian company which was registered in 2016, the same year that the purchasing arrangement commenced.

But more alarming is that the company was paid an advance payment of $9 million in 2015, meaning the advance payment was made before the company was legally registered. It would appear that the advance payment was startup capital for the shady company.

The investigation also found that the ministry was buying and paying for asphalt in advance but did not keep a record of what was received and what was paid for. In the end, there was overpaying done for asphalt.

The investigation also found that the agency hired and paid for private transportation from a company at a cost that was so high when the agency could have purchased its own fleet of vehicles.

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