Reacting to another front page photograph in the newspaper yesterday suggesting corruption in building bridges in farming districts, the ministry charged that it was part of a dishonest campaign by the media house.
The photograph of an obviously old bridge was accompanied by a caption claiming it was built at a cost of $26.3M.
Mr. Frederick Flatts, Senior Civil Engineer in the ministry’s Agricultural Sector Development Unit charged that this was “a clear act of callous reporting and mischief to manufacture a perception of over-priced projects and wastage”.
He added that it was a dishonest campaign intended to discredit the hard work of the sector to bring improvements to farming conditions.
“We wish to recall that the projects executed are supported by our international partners and all activities received no objections, are externally supervised and even audited by a professional accounting firm”, Flatts said.
The official said the Agricultural Support Services Project has not constructed any bridge at Ruby Back, East Bank Essequibo as claimed by the Kaieteur News.
He explained that the ministry, through this project, is constructing two new bridges at Barnwell Cross Dam, on the East Bank Essequibo, one of which was visited by Kaieteur News reporters on August 14, 2009 during a site inspection organized by the Ministry of Agriculture.
They declined an invitation to visit the other bridge, he said.
According to Flatts, the bridge photographed in yesterday’s Kaieteur News was built more than a decade ago under the East Bank Essequibo Development Project funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“As a matter of fact, anyone who looks at the photograph of the bridge published would recognize that this is not a recently constructed bridge, nor is it under construction”, he noted.
He said it was important to note that the timber bearing piles of both bridges under construction at Barnwell Cross Dam are encased in concrete - thereby making the timber piles invisible.
“The wooden piles shown on the photographed bridge in Kaieteur News are clearly visible making the new engineering design absent, thus confirming that this bridge was/is not part of the existing project”, Flatts said.