Cornelius: ‘Ministry Officials Have No Clue’

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By Neto Baptiste

President of the Antigua and Barbuda Athletics Association (ABAA), Everton Cornelius, has accused the Ministry of Sports of putting square pegs into round holes as it pertains to the individuals charged with managing the rehabilitation of the YASCO Sports Complex.

The former national athlete, during an interview with OBSERVER media, said that although he respects the decisions made by the government, the technicality of the works being undertaken at the facility is out of the reach of some ministry employees.

“They don’t understand the technicality of the track, the people within the ministry, but they need to understand that the track — and I have said it to them before — we are not building a road and when the technician [from Mondo] came here, those were the exact words the technician used to them; it is not a road we’re building, it is done to specification,” he said.

“I am an engineer, I know what is going on and the people who are assigned to the track, I know they don’t have the slightest clue of what’s going on at the track, and I am not going to let anybody come here and spoil something that we wanted for all these years,” he added.

Cornelius, who, on Monday, denied reports he intentionally withheld an email containing updated specifications from contractors C.O. Williams, said there have been instances where the intervention of some of the said ministry employees could have resulted in dire consequences.

“One Monday, I walked down to YASCO and the contractor is paving, and I asked him ‘why are you paving the track?’ and he said they [government] have been promising the public that this track is going to open and they need the paving started. I said to him, ‘are you crazy?’ You need to quit the paving because you cannot pave the track. The agreement is that the track must be paved when the technician is here, so leave that aspect of the track alone,” the official said.

“I explained a couple of things to him that if there is ponding and certain defects in the track when it’s paved, Mondo is not going to put down their surface,” he added. 

According to the athletics boss, however, his relationship with the country’s sports minister, Daryll Matthew, remains a cordial and professional one.

“He has no problem listening to me or talking to me about anything I want to talk to him about. I don’t know what he said behind the scene after I leave, but me and him talking to each other or even talking about YASCO, it’s not a shrugging of the shoulder or he’s pushing me off or anything. I think he is willing to listen to me, tell me to go ahead and do whatever I have to do,” Cornelius said.

“When I came back from my vacation I asked him [Matthew] straight up if they want me to assist with the project or not and to tell me now so I can just stay away from it and he said ‘no, I don’t want that to happen, I want you to continue do what you’re doing’,” he added.

Last week, Matthew confirmed that Mondo’s technician, by way of email, asked that “minor changes” be carried out on some aspects of the ongoing civil works. This, the minister added however, should not affect “the ability for us to have a fully commissioned and sanctioned track by Mondo.”

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