“I had to contact that same Winston Brassington (former Director of NICIL) who was overseas at the time. He directed me to where I could have found the information on the barge.” So said Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson earlier today as he chronicled the way he went about recovering a property of the State.
This was at an Alliance For Change (AFC) press conference, the first in months.
At that forum, AFC Member of Parliament (MP) Audwin Rutherford revealed that the APNU+AFC government was able to recover a barge that the People Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) had given to Courtney Edwards of Kwakwani Region 10. Edwards is a known supporter of the PPP.
Rutherford told the media, “The barge is now in the hands of the NDC (Neighbourhood Democratic Council) and they are doing a fantastic job managing the operations of the barge. People are getting employed due to the operation, and the money is coming into the coffers of the NDC instead of into the pocket of one PPP supporter.” The Lindener said that the barge used to be accompanied by a tug. However, government was not able to recover the tug because it was officially “gifted.”
Patterson told the press that it was he who had to step in and recover the barge.
He said that he found out about the barge when he accompanied Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman to Kwakwani for their first visit after assuming administrative office. “There was a town hall meeting and the residents of Kwakwani were adamant that the barge, which was used by a bauxite company, should be handed over to them.”
Patterson said that he promised the people of Kwakwani to look into the matter.
The Minister indicated that the transfer or “privatization” of the properties occurred through the National Industrial and Commercial Investment Limited (NICIL).
Patterson said that he approached NICIL in an effort to get information on the barge and the privatization process. He said, “And I will be very frank, NICIL had no information.”
The Minister said that he resorted to contacting “the same Winston Brassington.”
Patterson said he then learned that the barge was leased on a contact that was coming to an end later in 2015 and so he instructed that the contract should not be renewed.