SOCU investigation near completion

first_imgSole-sourced Demerara River bridge feasibility studyThe Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is close to wrapping up its investigations into the awarding of a sole-sourced contract for a feasibility study into constructing the new Demerara River bridge.The Public Procurement Commission had stated that the sole sourcing of the contract for the new Demerara River bridge feasibility study was illegalThis is according to SOCU Head, Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney James, when contacted by Guyana Times. While he noted that investigations were in an advanced stage, he declined to give details on whether charges would be laid.“The investigation is almost completed. It’s an ongoing investigation, but it is being finalised. The report is being finalised,” James explained, although he would only say “shortly” when asked for a specific timeframe for completion.The contract in question was awarded to Dutch company LievenseCSO for a feasibility study into the new bridge. The Opposition had requested that the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) investigate the award of the $148 million sole-sourced contract.SOCU head, Assistant Police Commissioner Sydney JamesIn its report on the matter, the PPC had flagged Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson for requesting from Cabinet that the contract be sole-sourced, instead of being processed through the Procurement Board as the law says should be done.The PPC completed its investigation into the award of the contract for a feasibility study on a new Demerara River bridge, and handed its report over on August 7, 2018. The report noted that several companies had bid for the project to do the feasibility study and design for the new Demerara River bridge, and 12 companies had been shortlisted.The report had added that only two of the 12 companies had made proposals. As such, the bidding process was annulled. It added that on November 12, 2016, the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) approved the move for the project to be re-tendered. The project was not re-tendered; instead, Dutch company LievenseCSO was engaged by the Public Infrastructure Ministry to do the work.Page seven of the report noted that the bid from LievenseCSO was “unsolicited”, but Patterson took the company’s proposal to Cabinet for approval, and Cabinet granted its approval for the company to be engaged. The report, on page seven, stated that monies to be spent on the project were taken from the Demerara Harbour Bridge Corporation (Asphalt Plant Accounts).It was subsequently announced that SOCU would be investigating the matter. Patterson submitted a statement to the investigative unit in September of this year, although this was criticised as the Opposition said the same standard used on them should apply to the Government. Around that time, Opposition politicians were being questioned at SOCU headquarters over other matters.last_img read more

Move over Neymar: how rugby players hope to change Brazil

first_imgSure, it’s not Twickenham or Eden Park. The pitch in Morro do Castro isn’t even close to the facilities you’d find at schools in Australia, Britain or other traditional rugby playing countries.Players wear a mishmash of shirts, some are barefoot. There are no rugby posts, the grass is patchy and when the ball’s kicked too far, it falls into an open sewer.Should drug traffickers or police start shooting in the favela — a real hazard — kids are trained to take cover under a concrete wall behind the goalposts.But the rugby is serious.Brazilian-British Oxford University graduate Robert Malengreau, founder of the NGO UmRio, teaches rugby to young people from the Morro do Castro favela in Rio de Janeiro, supporting young people in communities affected by crime © AFP / Apu GomesTwo dozen young players sprint over the threadbare turf, spinning the ball between hands in swift, well coordinated drills. And when they perform the haka, New Zealand’s famous Maori war dance, their passion is unmistakable, even if there’s a bit of a samba vibe, with plenty of dabbing for good measure.By the end of training, Lucas Aquino Chagas, a dreadlocked 17-year-old who captains one of the touch rugby teams, sports a big smile.Brazil, with a population of 208 million, only has about 16,000 registered rugby players, compared to the millions in football. It’s fair to say that most teenage boys probably dream of pulling on the national team’s yellow shirt or emulating Neymar’s riches.But Chagas’ dream?“To play for the All Blacks,” he says without hesitation.– Tackling life –The man who brought rugby to this poor, sleepy and occasionally perilous tropical corner is Robert Malengreau.Half-British, half-Brazilian, Malengreau, 28, played at high amateur levels in England, and is an Oxford University graduate.NGO UmRio, teaches rugby to young people from the Morro do Castro favela in Rio de Janeiro, in a bid to provide them with an safe environment where they can learn a new skill © AFP / Apu GomesHe always loved the game, but the tragedy of Brazil’s favelas, which are often under control of drug traffickers and shunned by the rest of society, made him want to try something more ambitious than just coaching.So four years ago he launched an NGO called UmRio, or One Rio, with the idea that introducing something as foreign as rugby might also shake things up beyond the field. Rugby, he says, “is an entry point.”To test his theory, Malengreau partnered with the school in Morro do Castro, a community he describes as “abandoned” by the government, and began teaching sport — and a new way of living.Players from around the world, including from Oxford and Cambridge universities, help with the actual rugby coaching.But just as importantly, local dentists and doctors volunteer for clinics, boosting healthcare in a community of about 6,000 with only one permanent dentist.Going against the grain of macho Brazilian society, girls play touch rugby on equal terms with boys at the NGO UmRio © AFP / Apu GomesEnglish language courses and mentoring by Brazilian and foreign teachers mean that students get as much help with schoolwork as on tackling technique.A key symbolic point is backing from Oxford and Cambridge rugby clubs, which have donated their famous dark and light blue shirts, and the less tangible gift of encouraging favela kids to aspire.“It’s Oxford and Cambridge saying ‘the doors are open for you,’” Malengreau said.About 400 children have participated so far and the message is getting through.As a black boy from a favela, Franklin Cruz, a small, nippy 14 year old, has grown used to people expecting him to wind up a drug trafficker or, at best, a low paid construction worker.The rugby adventure, he says, has emboldened him.“Why not become an architect or a doctor or lawyer?” he asks.– Beach rugby champs –Malengreau says there was a “bit of a shock” when he first showed up in the favela with five enormous Oxford University players and a bag of rugby balls.“I’d never heard of rugby in my life,” Chagas says, remembering how his football-obsessed friends were astonished to be told, “‘No, you’re not meant to kick!’”The learning curve was only starting.Rugby is more of a team sport than football, less prone to relying on individual stars, Malengreau says. There’s also none of football’s culture of yelling back at referees.Going against the grain of macho Brazilian society, girls play touch rugby on equal terms with boys.Players from around the world, including from Oxford and Cambridge universities, help with the actual rugby coaching at Brazilian NGO UmRio © AFP / Apu GomesAnd Malengreau pushes them all out of their comfort zone by encouraging use of English phrases during training, like: “Ready, ready up!” before defending a line.At a recent touch rugby tournament, the favela kids descended in two teams to Niteroi’s wealthy beach area to play other schools on the sand.One of Morro do Castro’s teams, resplendent in striped Cambridge University shirts, was crowned champion, prompting whooping and more dabbing.Janaina Trancoso, mother of a girl in the program, said a bigger victory looms for these children who otherwise might never have imagined escaping the favela’s isolation.“I think a door has opened for them,” Trancoso, 40, said.“With time they will manage to see that the world is big and that there are other possibilities.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Soccer may be king across the land of Pele, but in Morro do Castro, a favela in the hills above Rio suburb Niteroi, rugby and the oval ball rule © AFP / Apu GomesNITEROI, Brazil, Oct 2 – The boys and girls running on the dusty football pitch in a Rio favela could be kids anywhere in Brazil if not for one detail: the oddly shaped ball they’re chasing.Soccer may be king across the land of Pele, but in Morro do Castro, a favela in the hills above Rio suburb Niteroi, rugby and the oval ball rule.last_img read more