…while driver recounts near death experienceFollowing reports carried by Guyana Times of the deplorable state of the Linden-Lethem road, together with images thereof, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson has said Government is addressing the issue, and has pointed out that “contracts are out for (its) repair and maintenance.”Over the weekend, reports and video images of the deplorable state of the road were sent to this media house, with road users contending that sections of the road — at Fairview in Region Nine and at Kurupukari in Region Eight — are almost impassible, and most of the road has been flooded due to heavy rainfall over the past week.The truck overboard at the Christmas BridgeMinister Patterson told Guyana Times on Monday that he has seen the reports, has been made aware of the situation, and has committed to addressing it.Road users are contending that there are still some good sections of the Linden/Lethem Road, but those are outnumbered by bad sections. One bus driver, Ramroop (only name given), had said that Government needs to do more to maintain the condition of the road. He said the drivers are not opposed to paying an increase in toll in exchange for better roads. He explained that because of the impassible road at Fairview Village, bus operators are now being forced to pay as much as $5,000 to villagers for them to use the village truck to pull their vehicles out of the slush, adding that they are paying this charge in addition to tolls and maintenance cost.Near death experienceLast Friday, a truck driven by Dianand “Vicky” Inderdeo of Lot 2 Soesdyke, East Bank Demerara was returning to Georgetown with a consignment of lumber when it toppled into a creek while crossing the Christmas Bridge at Region Eight. The 32-year-old father of two sustained injuries to his hand, legs, back and head, and required urgent medical attention.A flooded section of the Kurupukari stretch of roadRelating his near-death experience, Inderdeo told this publication that he was heading back to Georgetown on Thursday when his truck, GWW 5832, became stuck on the Christmas Bridge.“I was crossing the bridge when one of the boards broke and the truck fly in the corner. So that happen on Thursday, and the truck spend the whole night on the bridge, and Friday morning two trucks pass and I beg them man to help pull me out, and when they went pulling the truck out, the board under it start sprawl out, and next thing me know is overboard me went,” he related.The man has said he has been traversing the Linden-Lethem Road for over 11 years, and this is the worst condition he has ever seen the road in. He further said that when the truck toppled into the creek, he was forced to climb out by the passenger side to avoid life-threatening injuries.“After them pull me out, the truck them take me to the Iwokrama Health Centre, and then the Annai Health Centre, and then the Lethem hospital. But I take me own discharge and come to town, and went to a hospital and see a doctor, and them tell me to take it easy,” Inderdeo explained.The man, like others, said the Government need to urgently intervene and conduct immediate repairs and maintenance to the road.Minister Patterson had earlier this month said work would soon commence on the construction of a new, single- or dual-lane fixed bridge approximately 600 metres long, at the Kurupukari ferry, and one year after it was announced, that the river would be bridged. Currently, persons travelling the Linden/Lethem trail have to cross the Essequibo River at Kurupukari — a privately-operated pontoon service. Kurupukari Village is located along the Lethem–Georgetown trail, about five hours from Lethem.In February of 2017, the Public Infrastructure Ministry had said it was gearing up to commence construction on the first phase of the Linden-Lethem Road project, which will be funded through the United Kingdom Government under its UK/Caribbean Infrastructure Partnership Fund (UKCIF) programme.In September 2015, former UK Prime Minister David Cameron had announced a £300 million investment in vital new infrastructure such as roads, bridges and ports to help drive economic growth and development across the Caribbean region. Guyana was named among nine Caribbean states to benefit from this grant.The first phase of the project, which spans from Linden to Mabura, covers approximately 122.5 kilometres of road and the construction of the bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupukari.The Minister is optimistic that by late 2020, the Linden/Lethem road linking Guyana and Brazil would be completed. Budget 2018 provides $1.5B for hinterland roads rehabilitation, as well as for completion of all roll over projects.
Money launderingData gathering and the sharing of information have been deemed two critical components in the fight against money laundering and countering terrorism financing and, therefore, collaborative efforts by several important agencies in Guyana are essential to securing successful prosecutions and convictions.Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Matthew LangevineThis is according to the Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Matthew Langevine, who at a signing ceremony of agreements with seven agencies on Monday stated that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that each agency inked with the FIU allows for the exchange of information in a timely, safe and secure manner.“The MoU was developed based on recommendations to 29 of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Forty recommendations which require that organisations, competent authorities in every country, share information that will allow for the effective execution of its mandate with respect to dealing with the scourge of money laundering,” Langevine said at the brief signing ceremony.The agencies which will be sharing information are Guyana Gold Board, Bank of Guyana, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, Gaming Authority, Lands Registry, Chief Cooperative Development Officer and Guyana Securities Council.ConfidentialityLangevine explained that the MoU allows for all competent authorities to agree to share information and exchange information in an efficient, safe and secure manner, so that there is confidentiality and protection of the information that is shared.“As well as to share the information in a timely manner so that investigations are conducted efficiently. We have an MoU with the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) and the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) already that was done previously and so with all the agencies now coming on board to exchange information in a more structured and efficient manner, it should allow for a more efficient and effective process with respect to all the investigations we are conducting.”According to the FIU Head, such a process is standard for all FIUs globally and all the competent authorities in every country. The fact that Guyana was not a part of this process earlier was highlighted as a weakness within a National Risk Assessment (NRA) that was conducted.Langevine further explained that the inking of such a MoU is one of the recommendations that came out of the NRA that was completed in 2017. It is aimed at ensuring that all measures that were identified in relation to improving the effectiveness of the Anti-Money Laundering/Caribbean Financing Action Task Force (AML/CFATF) regime in Guyana, are in place.“We signed with seven today but we would have signed a couple already. We have a few others that we are hoping to sign with very shortly including the additional registries, the Commercial Registry and the Deeds Registry as well as the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) which is still outstanding which we are going to have signed off very shortly. The Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit (CANU) is also scheduled to sign off with us very shortly as well.”No SOCU successful prosecutionsHe told this publication that over the past few years, since the establishment of the FIU, his agency has continuously been sending cases to SOCU so that it (SOCU) could pursue with the aim of securing successful prosecutions which would lead to convictions.“We are sending cases all the time, we are sending reports to them, sending updated reports to reports submitted previously so it is an ongoing process. The one thing I would like to warn the public is that money laundering investigations are very complex and it takes a lot of time and requires a lot of work and a lot of skilled resources and I think that we have to allow the process to work.”However, he noted that getting to the stage of convictions, prosecutions and seizures of assets cannot happen until there are certain systems properly implemented.