Wednesday 23 September, 2020

Questions raised about CMU’s construction activities at St Ann schools

Dr Dayton Campbell

Dr Dayton Campbell

As the Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) continues to be embroiled in controversy, questions are being asked about the institution’s role in construction activities at two high schools in the North West St Ann constituency.

The political representative for the area, Dr Dayton Campbell on Tuesday tabled questions in Parliament to Minister without Portfolio with responsibility for Education, Karl Samuda seeking to determine whether CMU had “the skill set” to carry out construction at Discovery Bay All-Age School, soon to be a high school, and Brown’s Town High School.

Campbell also sought to find out whether the correct procedures were followed in the awarding of the construction works to CMU.

“The construction that is to take place there (Discovery Bay All-Age), and also construction that took place at Brown’s Town High, the CMU was responsible for construction. Now I want to know if CMU has the skill set to be doing construction of these facilities, and why it is (that) these things seem to have taken place without any adherence to the tender process we have been oh so familiar with,” the North West St Ann Member of Parliament (MP) quizzed.

In his response, Samuda said he had not heard any complaints about the works that were carried out by CMU on the facilities in question.

“First of all… Does CMU have the competence? To be honest with you, since I have been there (in the Education Ministry), I haven’t gotten a chance to assess CMU’s competence. Probably you could ask the former minister if he could  guide you, because the process is one that started long ago, where they engaged in repairs to facilities and so far, I have not heard complaints as to the level of efficiency (that were) taken on by the work of CMU. But that’s a detail that suggests to me there is a lot of local issues involved there that I would have to get the facts on and respond to you on those,” Samuda responded in Parliament on Tuesday.

Dr Fritz Pinnock

The new queries into the operations of CMU came three days after embattled President of the institution, Dr Fritz Pinnock, opted to take a six-week leave of absence amid the ongoing probe into perceived acts of corruption and cronyism within the Education Ministry, including the CMU, which falls within the ministry’s portfolio.

In a news release on Friday, CMU said Pinnock informed the university’s council chairman of his decision in a letter.

“In the interest of all, I have elected to go on six weeks’ (leave of absence) to give the various investigations in progress time to conclude their findings and recommendations,” Pinnock’s letter reportedly stated.

The police probe into the matter is said to involve a number of agencies over which former Education Minister Ruel Reid had oversight responsibility as minister, including the CMU, with allegations that a number of politically-connected persons have been benefitting significantly from the university without merit.

Reid resigned from his positions as minister and a senator in March of this year. He also stepped down as caretaker-candidate for North West St Ann.

Get the latest local and international news straight to your mobile phone for free: