LUCEA, Hanover - MEMBER of Parliament for Western Hanover Ian Hayles is calling on the auditor general to investigate three community projects in his constituency.
"I am disappointed that funds made available for these projects will be exhausted before the works are completed and so I want the matter to be investigated," he said. "The people of western Hanover deserve better."
The projects, which are being funded from Hayles' Constituency Development Fund (CDF) and implemented by the Hanover Parish Council, are:
* the construction of a post office at Green Island for which there is a $5.6-million budget;
* the renovation of the Cauldwell Community Centre for which there is a $6.5-million budget; and
* the refurbishing of the Logwood Centre for which there is a $6-million budget.
Hayles told the Observer West on Tuesday that Cauldwell Community Centre began two years ago and the Logwood facility last year, while construction of the post office began earlier this year. Each project, he said, was scheduled to be completed within six months of beginning.
According to Hayles, residents in the Logwood, Green Island and Cauldwell communities are now disappointed that there is going to be cost overruns on the projects.
"I am hopping mad over the situation because the people of Green Island have been waiting for a long time to get a post office. They have to be travelling to as far as Lucea — which is a distance of about 12 miles — to get their mail," he argued.
Hayles, who is a second-term MP for western Hanover and junior agriculture and fisheries minister, charged that there is a level of incompetence and lack of transparency at the Hanover Parish Council, which he said will not be tolerated.
"The taxpayers deserve to see how their tax dollars are being spent and right now it is not being spent in an efficient way. There are a lot of questions to be answered by the implementing agency," he said, adding that his role is to ensure that the CDF is spent in a manner that "should not be questioned".
When contacted, the Superintendent of the Roads and Works at the Hanover Parish Council Alexander Mann said changes in project designs had led to the imminent cost overruns.
He noted that in the case of the construction of the Green Island Post Office, the designs were altered to allow for a much bigger facility. The original design, he said, was done without approval from the Post Master General's Department.
As for the Logwood Community Centre, Mann said it is expected to be 95 per cent complete with the remaining funds, while the facility at Cauldwell is estimated to be 90 per cent complete. The construction of the Green Island Post Office, he said, is projected to be 70 per cent complete with the remaining funds.