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Kamla on rapid rail: Undue rush to sign contract
Kamla meets Integrity Commission
- Questions Government’s “unholy rush” to sign contracts with Bouygues before polls
- Claims Nidco has instructed lawyers to have contracts prepared this week.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is questioning what she deems as an “unholy rush” by the Government to sign off on the contract for the proposed $15 billion rapid rail project.
“We are of the view that this contract should not be signed on the eve of a general election,” she said yesterday.
“It appears to us that there is an unholy and undue rush and an obscene haste to sign this contract on the eve of a general election.”
Persad-Bissessar was speaking to reporters after meeting with members of the Integrity Commission at Unit Trust headquarters on Independence Square in Port-of-Spain.
The commission, chaired by John Martin, had summoned the Opposition Leader to a meeting after she had spoken out against alleged corruption in the rapid rail project during her budget reply in the Parliament in August.
Yesterday, Persad-Bissessar—armed with three stacks of documentation relating to the project—met with the commission for just over an hour.
She was accompanied by Opposition senators Wade Mark and Dr Tim Gopeesingh, both of whom had also spoken about the project in their budget contributions in the Senate.
Persad-Bissessar claimed the National Infrastructure Development Co (Nidco) had instructed its lawyers to have the contract documents prepared so that the French company Bouygues could be signed on this week.
Calling for an immediate halt to the project, Persad-Bissessar recalled that the PNM Government had followed a similar pattern prior to the 1995 general election.
“On the very eve of the election they signed the contract with Severn Trent and the succeeding government had to spend millions of dollars to terminate those contracts when they were found to be contrary to the best interest of the country,” she told reporters.
“We have been burnt by that experience and I am calling on all civic-minded citizens to raise their voices and demand that this rapid rail project must not be signed before the elections and that if any contract has to be signed in the future that it is done after proper studies and evaluations and the selection of contractors must be done in an open, fair and transparent way.”
She said the Integrity Commission had promised to investigate the UNC’s allegations surrounding the project.
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