Reconstruction of Moruca BridgeFollowing the controversial building of a wooden bridge at Moruca, Region One (Barima-Waini) back in 2014, Cabinet has approved a $119 million contract to upgrade the facility to a double-lane concrete bridge.At the post-Cabinet press briefing last week, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said the multimillion-dollar contract was awarded to Mohamed Ramzanalli Khan Construction. This project is expected to last for a period of 18 months.According to the Government’s spokesperson, this project is actually to correct a “mess” that was done four years ago when the original bridge, first constructed in the 1980s to facilitate pedestrians, was upgraded for vehicular traffic.“It was rehabilitated in 2014 and many of us are aware of the work that was done at that bridge, which, after the expenditure of large sums of money, was still not possible for it to be properly used. So basically what is happening now, we are going to clear up a mess that was created by the previous Administration,” the spokesperson added.After the $43 million contract was awarded in 2012, works on the bridge at Moruca were finally completed in March 2014. The project was expected to be completed within a few months, however, it became the subject of controversy when, in addition to the lengthy delays, residents had accused the contactor of carrying out substandard work.The contractor, Hardat Singh, had stated that the delays were due largely to the inclement weather and the fact that aspects of the bridge’s design had to be changed. He had explained that he indicated his disapproval of the original design to regional officials but was still told to go ahead with the project as is.Then Opposition Members of Parliament, Joseph Harmon of the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change’s Valerie Garrido-Lowe had both separately visited the site in 2014 prior to the completion of the structure and found that the works were shabby. A photo was then released with the approach to the bridge submerged, resulting in the residents having to use a makeshift walkway to access the bridge.While Singh maintained that the bridge was built in accordance with contractual specifications, he noted at the time the photo was taken, the project was incomplete. A sub-contractor was retained by Singh to complete the remaining “small works”, including the approach to the bridge. But the contract had warned that while approach was built up with sand, this issue may still persist since heavy rainfall was frequent in the Moruca sub-region.
…cocaine found in sealed rice bags in container destined for BelgiumThe interception of an outgoing shipment over the weekend has led local authorities to the discovery of some 147 pounds (66.8 kilos) of cocaine, randomly hidden in sealed 45-kilogram bags of rice destined for export to Belgium.The parcels containing cocaine that were unearthed in the rice consignmentGuyana Times understands that city businessman Andre Poonai, of Golden Grains Investments Limited, has since been arrested and taken into custody to assist with the investigation.According to reports, the raid commenced at the John Fernandes Wharf, Water Street, Georgetown since Friday, October 27, 2017. However, the narcotics were uncovered just before lunch the following day. The containers were scheduled to leave Guyana Friday eveningDuring the exercise, the officers unloaded and searched the five rice-filled 20-foot containers, and discovered taped parcels containing a white powdery substance in some of the rice bags.One of the rice bags in which some cocaine parcels were concealedThe suspected cocaine was weighed. The bust was a collaborative effort between agents of the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) and the Guyana Revenue Authority’s Container Control Programme (CCP).According to CANU, the broker responsible for the rice consignment remains in custody. The businessman reportedly gave a Barr Street, Kitty, Georgetown address on the shipping documents, but it turns out that no operations were being carried out there.Back in August, Narcotics Police in Jamaica found cocaine with a street value of over J$100 million in a shipment of rice that travelled from Guyana through the Dominican Republic.It was reported that the Police, accompanied by members of the Customs Contraband Enforcement Team, conducted a snap operation at the Kingston Container Terminal and immediately trained their focus on cargo from specific containers. During the examination of a 40-foot container, a total of five leather bags were revealed to be hidden among the shipment.The bags had a total of 78 parcels, each containing the white powdery substance.