UG's development hampered by serious pilfering problem - Vice Chancellor
A serious, protracted pilfering situation has been listed among the factors that have been hampering the development of the University of Guyana [UG]. In fact, the Guyana Police Force a few months ago was called in to investigate reports of theft from the Centre for Information Technology [CIT].
But according to UG Vice Chancellor and Principal, Professor Ivelaw Griffith, during an interview with this publication, CIT is not the only department of the university to be so plagued. The situation, he informed, is far-reaching and has translated to millions worth of items disappearing from various departments of the University.
This state of affairs has undoubtedly helped to contribute to the financial challenge that UG has been faced with over time.
“If we have to replace 17, 18, 19 million dollars a year of stuff, how can we progress as a university? These are equipment for classrooms, for offices, even some of the contractors [are stealing]; stuff are just being stolen from this University,” Professor Griffith related.
“This University has a lot of theft,” stressed the unapologetic Principal of the national university. And according to him, he has made no secret of the state of affairs, but rather, has shared information he has compiled in this regard with both staff and the student body as well.
“I’ve publicly said we don’t have drones coming… [so] it is staff or students, or people facilitated by staff or students, who are coming and stealing stuff.”
Professor Griffith said that during a meeting with Union representatives, for instance, he made it clear to them that “you have an obligation to help us deal with that…there are things that we have to do if we want a different environment.”
“We have to look ourselves in the mirror and say ‘who is going to fix these things?’ It has got to be us,” the Vice Chancellor asserted.
In fact, Professor Griffith said that in his quest to be transparent and share information, even before turning the CIT allegations over to the police, he had had the discussions with the unions of the university – the University of Guyana Workers’ Union and the University of Guyana Senior Staff Association.
It was only after this, he said, that “I called in the CID and they started with that building. What I said to the unions is that I am turning this matter over to the police, and the chips will fall where they may. When the CID is done with its investigation whomever they want to prosecute, I will say go right ahead.”
This happened a few a months ago. But according to Vice Chancellor Griffith, he has since learnt that there is an even greater pilfering problem within the maintenance department of the university.
According to the Vice Chancellor, he got information that suggests that the skulduggery in that department might have surpassed what has already been brought to the attention of the university’s administration.
“I said I know [what’s going on] but I didn’t know the full extent of it, but I have already put [the] Maintenance [Department] on warning that I am coming to them next,” Professor Griffith stated.
According to the Vice Chancellor, when one takes into consideration the persons who are already being investigated, there is a nexus between them and some people associated with the university.
During the month of April, Professor Griffith had called in the Police Force to investigate the allegations of theft of equipment and misconduct of staff members of CIT. The Manager of the Centre and several employees were sent on leave as an interim measure to allow the investigation to proceed without disruption of evidence, and to preserve a safe, orderly, and professional work environment. A temporary manager was identified to oversee the operations of the Centre during the conduct of the investigation which, Professor Griffith said yesterday, was ongoing.
Additionally, there are reports coming out from UG that the Ministry of Public Telecommunications was asked to conduct a forensic audit of the CIT operations at the Turkeyen and Berbice campuses and the four centres of the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education located at Anna Regina, Georgetown, Linden and New Amsterdam.
- The University of Guyana