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Reliable Construction will continue river defence project – PM

Reliable Construction will continue river  defence project – PM
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves

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Despite the declaration of a mis-procurement by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), river defence works on the Yarabaqua River will continue using State resources.

And the contract for the completion of the project will remain with Reliable Construction Services Ltd.(RCSL)

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, in a statement this week said that the river defence and river training works of the river, which is located on the Windward side of the island, still needs to be done urgently.

The statement also noted that the contracted firm had already carried out six months worth of work.

“The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (GOSVG) has been advised by its relevant officials that RCSL has the capacity, personnel, and equipment to finish the job which it has started. The Ministry of Transport and Works is satisfied that under its ongoing supervision and that of the relevant professional staff of the GOSVG, the usual supervision of infrastructural works can be properly effected with RCSL as the Contractor,” Gonsalves’ statement said.

Reliable Construction Services Ltd was one of six tenderers to bid for the project which falls under the CDB funded National Disaster Management (NDM) Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Project (December 2013 Trough Event).

The bank’s declaration of mis-procurement follows a letter of objection written by Cameron Balcombe, the managing director of Bally and Bally Investments Inc, one of the unsuccessful bidders.

And SVG was told to pay back to the CDB any monies that have already been drawn down for the project, with interest.

The Prime Minister however said earlier this week that the CDB had subsequently decided to waive the interest.

Gonsalves, in his statement this week said “the Cabinet under its legal authority has decided to permit RCSL to resume its work at the Yarabaqua River. The financing will be effected through the Consolidated Fund of GOSVG, not using CDB monies. The Ministry of Transport and Works has been directed by Cabinet to submit a Special Warrant to obtain financing for the work and to deliver a draft contract for the outstanding works to the Attorney General for urgent review”.

He said it was not reasonable for the government to take another year or more to go through a competitive tendering process.

The Prime Minister’s statement referenced this country’s relationship with the CDB and said that the bank recognises the government’s sound tendering process.

Chairman of the Tenders Board Edmond Jackson in a statement issued on Monday said the mis-procurement declared by the CDB does not amount to corruption.

“…Indeed there is absolutely no allegation of corruption, fraud, impropriety or misbehaviour in public office by any official in the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines or elsewhere,” he said.

“The CDB’s review indicates essentially that the conditionalities and rules were not scrupulously applied, thus leading to its holding of unfairness in the process of competitive bidding.”

Jackson said the value of the current mis-procurement, which is just over $1.4 million, is representative of a small percentage of the total procurements undertaken by the government with the CDB and in no way characterises the state of the government’s procurement system.

He added that “public procurement has always been conducted with the utmost transparency”.

Seven bids were received by the Ministry of Transport and Works on April 23, 2018 for the Yarabaqua river project from OB Sadoo Engineering Services Ltd, Hutchinson Construction Co. Ltd, Bailey Contractors Inc, Bally and Bally Investments Inc, Franco Construction Ltd, Reliable Construction Services Ltd and Electric Co. Ltd., with the contract being awarded to Reliable Construction Services Ltd.

According to the statement from Jackson, a design and supervision consultant, IBI Group of Canada was contracted by the Ministry of Transport and Works to provide consultancy services under the NDM programme. And in keeping with their terms of reference, the consultancy firm completed the Bid Evaluation report of the seven bids received for the project.

The statement further notes that the submission from chief engineer, Alistair Campbell to the Tenders’ Board for approval to negotiate with the successful tenderer was accompanied by a letter of ‘No Objection’ from the CDB dated August 13, 2018.

Jackson’s statement further reads that “the decision by the Tenders’ Board to award the contract relied upon the Bid Evaluation Report prepared by IBI Group (the consultant) and the letter of ‘no objection’ issued by the CDB”.

“The tendering process of the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines is an independent one and is not subject to any political or other undue interference. The Tenders Board carries out its obligations with due regard to professionalism, transparency, accountability, and the legal requisites of the process to the best of its ability. Both the tendering process and the work of the Tenders Board have a sound record,” the statement read.

The Tenders Board at the time of the award of the instant contract, and currently, consists of the following seven members: The Director General of Finance and Planning (Chairman), the Accountant General, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Works, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and three non-public servants (Leroy Rose — a banker; Ashelle Morgan — a lawyer; and Joel Woodley — a small businessman). The non-public servants are appointed by Cabinet.

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