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Coast Guard rakes up $5m food bill
Vishnu Ramlochan, of San Juan, is on the brink of losing his home and it’s all because he has not been paid by the T&T Defence Force for goods he supplied to them. Ramlochan told Crimewatch host Ian Alleyne this week that in the period 2006-2007, he supplied the Coast Guard with a range of food items ranging from vegetables to sea food, including jumbo shrimp and blue crab, and canned goods. Over the period the bill grew to $5 million.
But for Vishnu his troubles were just beginning. He has a folder bulging with invoices and receipts signed by officers who took the goods, but he told Alleyne all efforts to get payment have been unsuccessful. Ramlochan says he is desperate to recover the outstanding money and has even written to the Prime Minister. He produced the letter which he sent to the Office of the Prime Minister, but said he never got a response.
He said he is now desperate for the Defence Force to settle the million dollar bill, since he only recently got a letter from the bank telling him that his house would be seized if he did not settle an outstanding loan.
An angry Alleyne said he found it impossible to understand just how a state agency could have failed to pay a bill which is so long overdue, saying “That real hard, the man losing his house, imagine you losing a house and everything because a government with a budget of billions fail to pay even though you deliver what they wanted.” But Alleyne promised Vishnu, “I will make sure you get the money owed to you.”
A quick call to Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and help was finally the way for Vishnu. The AG told Alleyne, “I would be happy to meet him and listen to what he has to say. If he provided services I will look at his documents, make inquiries and see what the facts are.”
The AG, who was in his office at around 6.30 pm, asked Ramlochan to come and see him immediately.
Ramlochan said he felt relieved that finally help was on the way. He said he had gone to every official connected to the Defence Force in an effort to get payment but to no avail. Satisfied that things were looking brighter, Ramlochan thanked Alleyne, saying, “Mr. Alleyne, at the end of the day, you are the sheriff and you get the job done.” Also seeking help from Crimewatch on another matter was Diane Bisnath.
The woman, who now lives in Brooklyn, New York, told Alleyne that she paid contractor Vishnu Seenath, AKA Fingers, of Golconda, US$42,000 to build a house for her in February 2011. She said nothing was ever done and she subsequently asked Seenath to return her money. She said he repaid US$22,000 but still owes her US$20,000.
Appearing on Crimewatch alongside Bisnath, the contractor admitted to collecting the US$42,000, the equivalent of a quarter million TT dollars. He at first claimed that some of the money was used to construct a 200-foot wall on the property at Lalbeharry Trace, Debe, but Bisnath’s husband, Narsingh, quickly dismissed him, saying, “You lie, I build that wall and pay for the material for it.”
Seenath then alleged that Bisnath had asked him to give money to her sister and to a bank manager in Chaguanas. But Bisnath quickly chimed in, “Show me the receipts. You lying.” Seenath insisted that he paid $12,000 to her sister and exchanged US$10,000 at a bank in Chaguanas. This further angered Bisnath, who called Seenath a liar. With things getting heated Alleyne sought to cool flaring tempers, telling Seenath, “Mister, look you took the lady money she want it back, give it back.”
Alleyne told Seenath he needed to be honest, telling him, “If you took the lady money and use it tell her. But at the end of the day ,bet your bottom dollar you have to pay her back.” Seenath grudgingly agreed to repay the money, but could not say how soon. Alleyne has advised Bisnath and her husband to report the matter to the Fraud Squad.
Alleyne wants to know why the Government is building a walkover at the Divali Nagar site in Chaguanas and not at Sea Lots as promised. He said he saw the work going on there and stopped and asked the workers, who seemed hesitant to give him any information. But he was able to glean that a walkover is being built. He has warned the Government that they risk raising the anger of the people, asking them to hold their hand on the Divali Nagar walkover until they meet their commitment to Sea Lots.
Gangadeen Ramdhanie has been trying for a year now to get back $72,000 which he paid to contractor Rakesh Jairam.
Days after he appeared on Crimewatch the man reported to Alleyne that he has recovered all the money owed to him by Jairam.
The elderly man thanked Alleyne, telling him “That is performance. You are really the sheriff.”