Members of the Coomacka Concerned Residents Co-operative Society Limited, are upset that media reports have surfaced that a block-making factory which falls under their management, has been abandoned and monies collected to construct and commence the operations of the community project have been misappropriated. It was reported in some sections of the media, that during a recent visit to the factory by Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton and Chief Co-operative Development Officer, Ms. Perlina Gift, the factory has been abandoned and left without a roof. Minister Hamilton was quoted as saying it is a clear indication of the misappropriation of public funds, and those involved would have to account for those sums.
Chairman of the Co-op Coretta Young, told INFO 10 that the Co-op never received liquid cash to construct the building to house the factory or to purchase the equipment and other supplies needed to commence the operation. The project, which fell under the Sustainable Livelihood Entrepreneurial Development (SLED) , was channeled through the Regional Democratic Council (RDC). It was the RDC that tendered and awarded the contract for the construction of the factory and it was the RDC, that purchased all equipment and supplies needed for the operation to commence. Young disclosed that the contract was awarded and the contractor never completed the building or came to correct faults that were discovered following construction.
The items that were collected included two bales of cement, two wheel barrows and eight molds. She revealed that the RDC is yet to deliver another bale of cement to the Co-op. Since operations commenced, she said all blocks manufactured were sold and proceeds were used to repurchase material, pay the block maker and fund Co-op related activities. The last set of blocks were manufactured in September. The monies were never in control of one person and the members worked in unison for the betterment of the organization. Young said that some time back, the factory was vandalised and zinc sheets were stolen. The entire community was made aware of the incident. A decision was taken to take down the remaining zinc sheets to cover a small shed which housed equipment.
She said sometime last week, she was invited to the factory site by Senior Co-op Officer Ms. Perlina Gift, but by the time she got there, the team had left. She was then showed a news article which suggested that the site was abandoned and the $3.5 M allocated for the project, was misappropriated. “It was not so, they should have contacted some member of the Coop to say what happened rather than to say what you don’t know and slander people’s name.
Despite the hiccups, Young said the Co-op will continue the operations of the factory, with the aim to create employment in the mining communities and empower single parents and youths.