Mayor of Lucea and Chairman of the Hanover Municipal Corporation, Sheridan Samuels, has repudiated the contents of two audio clips which have been circulating on social media, accusing him of, among other things, breaching procurement guidelines and professional misconduct.
In the audio clips, which had been muffled and which were unscrambled through computer engineering, the voice allegedly of a well-known politician is heard questioning the allocation of contracts to resident Kerron Chisholm, which the contractor had received for bushing and minor road repairs, within the Cauldwell Division which the Mayor represents as councilor.
A peeved Mayor Samuels told reporters at a press conference held at the Corporation yesterday, that the audio clips are part of a smear campaign aimed at him ahead of the upcoming Local Government Elections.
As a consequence, the Mayor says he is also calling on the Ministry of Local Government to undertake a thorough independent audit of all the contracts issued within his division and make the findings public, in order to prove that the allegations being made in what he describes as a smear campaign, are false and malicious.
“I am calling for the Ministry to come and do some investigations down here to clear the air of what is out there,” Mayor Samuels said at a press conference held at the Corporation on Monday.
“I don’t want persons to be sending out things in the public, fixing and faking stories, that we are doing anything illegal here. We are not doing anything illegal here. We are one of the most audited corporations and I am certain that if we were going down the wrong path, our CEO would have guided us,” he added.
Mayor Samuels says said the Government’s procurement guidelines and the standard operating procedure over the years for small contracts to residents, have been followed meticulously, including the one being questioned in the audio clips.
He said the only involvement of councilors in the contracting process, as stated in the guidelines, is for them to make recommendations within their respective divisions, in writing, via a standard form.
He said the recommendation then goes through the appropriate channels including: being vetted and ratified by the Corporation’s Chief Engineering Officer, following which the Works Overseer assesses the scope of works to be undertaken and then interviews the contractor, to determine whether he/she is capable of executing the task.
“If the contractor is not fit enough, then you will have to make another recommendation,” Mayor Samuels explained. “This contractor (Chisholm) was well able, because in the past, we had been having problems, in that works were done; persons got paid, and the recommended contractors didn’t pay other persons. So, we have to find trustworthy persons, who are honest, who are able to pay out some of the persons if the work is not done on time and then the subcontractors are paid,” he noted.
“We ensure that we follow the procurement guidelines within the corporation that is what we have done. And in following the procurement guidelines, we cannot be wrong,” the Mayor said.