THE drama associated with the reconstruction of St. Jude Hospital in Vieux Fort took an astonishing turn this week when Economic Development, Housing, Urban Renewal, Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Guy Joseph appeared on the premises of a business enterprise in White Rock, Corinth demanding to view the contents of a warehouse which he says are supplies belonging to the hospital.
His request was first denied by staff at the business place however they relented sometime later after he produced a search warrant.
The Minister, who was accompanied by police officers, customs officers and officials from the Ministry of Economic Development, among others on Thursday said that an ongoing audit of the works conducted at the hospital found 21 containers of supplies belonging to the hospital but documentation could only account for ten of them.
“In this warehouse there’s supposed to be some flooring and tiles the government purchased a few years ago in relation to the St. Jude project. We came in to collect the goods that were paid for by the government, they were duty free. We have to account for everything we are doing,” Joseph said.
But his sudden appearance at White Rock drew the ire of Thomas Eugene, owner of the business who is out of the island, but was informed of the situation via a staff member.
Eugene wasted no time in using social media to get his views across and explain how he managed to be in possession of materials belonging to the hospital project. He admitted that the supplies had been in his warehouse since July 2011 costing him $10,000 a year in insurance.
He said it was always his desire to have the materials removed from his building to the point where when the government changed hands last June he informed the Ministry in writing of the situation.
Said Eugene: “To my surprise they didn’t know I was holding their material”. He also sought repayment for the money he had spent on insurance and rent.
“ Two days ago I got a letter via email advising they will be coming to collect their material,” Eugene said. “I made it clear nothing leaves my premises without a written confirmation of my payment by the authorities. Well, their response today was two vans loaded with armed police, converging on my premises to remove their material. Wasn’t long before they realized nothing will happen without a court order….
“What have I got to gain by detaining your property? Have you forgotten I’m the one who told you I’m holding the material?” Eugene asked of Minister Joseph.
Eugene vowed to get the money owed to him by the government.