Payments to contractors hired to conduct the Hurricane Dean clean-up exercise have been temporarily suspended while the police conduct a probe to establish their legitimacy.
This is according to Joan Gordon-Webley, executive director of the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA).
Mrs. Gordon-Webley told a press conference at the NSWMA's Half-Way Tree Road office that a preliminary review into licence plates of vehicles designated for the project unearthed several irre-gularities.
Privately owned vehicles
She said the probe of plates has, so far, revealed that several vehicles were either privately owned or not appropriate for such an arduous task.
"In light of the above findings the payment to contractors for Hurricane Dean clean-up work was suspended effective immediately while further checks are carried out," she said.
Mrs. Gordon-Webley said the probe, which was ordered by Robert Montague, state minister for local government matters, showed that several of the vehicles were not commercial operators. One of them, she noted, was a 2007 Toyota Land Cruiser which was imported under a duty concession. Other plates belonged to passenger buses or could not be traced to any vehicle.
About 200 vehicles were reportedly assigned for the clean-up which began weeks after Dean struck Jamaica on August 19. To date, licence plates to 50 of them have been processed with the credentials of 10 being questioned.
Over $140 million has been spent on the cleanup exercise to date.
Mrs. Gordon-Webley also reported the dismissal of two more senior staff members at the NSWMA, bringing the number of staff terminations, since she assumed office five weeks ago, to 61.
Twenty-three managers were axed in late November. She said 36 contract workers were also fired.