Nassau, Bahamas — Bahamas Press is now investigating the financial solvency of the Jose Cartellone Construcciones, an Argentinean Company, which is responsible for the construction of the country’s new highway corridors.
We all know Hubert Ingraham gave the road construction work to this foreign company confirming his lack of confidence in Bahamian contactors.
We have information which questions the solvency and financial viability of the company to complete the project. You should know this is the same company, which pulled out of Jamaican’s road contact some years back leaving the Jamaicans holding the bag.
BP can confirm the construction to the roadways have slowed and the Bahamian workers are on strike. Their arguments are over wages. We are also told by contracted companies hauling fill for the project the company has decided to slow up fill purchases. THIS IS INCREDIBLE NEWS. And BP understand there are more, MUCH MORE TO WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE MONEY!
Last week BRADLEY ROBERTS in a strong attack had this to say about CARTELLONE’s construction works:
Talk about wrecking the country, Ladies and Gentlemen, You will recall the FNM Government executed a contract on December 15th 2008 with Jose Cartellone Construcciones an Argentinean Company to complete the New Providence Road Improvement Program at a cost of $120 Million. Construction was to commence on January 5th 2009 and the construction was to be completed in 33 and one half month to 36 months.
Despite the excellent work of Bahamian Road Building contractors the FNM excluded their participation.
February 8th next week Monday will mark thirteen (13) full months since the works began. My sources tell me that the project is eight months (8) behind schedule and the Contractor has not completed one corridor.
Initially in hiring all Bahamian Staff the Jose Cartellone I am advised said that it was using a labour contract based on Argentinean Laws as a temporary move until they had completed setting up their operation locally. Yet to date this has not be revised, Bahamians are working based these contracts which do not provide the same standards as Bahamian Law does.
As a result the pay scale on the job does not reflect what should be paid to skilled workers or labourers. Currently Skilled Workers are paid $6 per hour and Labourers $4 per hour. This has been a bone of contention for sometime as the company’s President, Madam Cartellone, voiced her concerns from the outset only to be undermined by the group of engineers running the contract here in the Bahamas. Now they are running the show and spending the money. The company now owes back pay to its Bahamian Employees who have endured the situation due to tough economic times. Why has Minister Dion Foulkes not spoken out on behalf of the Bahamian workers who walked off the job?
I am also advised that to make matters worse the Company has turned a portion of the operations /equipment site at the Sports Center into living quarters for the Argentinean Worker. The portable housing that was put in place does not meet the Bahamas Building code in relation to Hurricane standards. In addition they have put in septic tanks next to residential zone Yellow Elder where septic tanks were never used due to the high water table in the area. The employees lounge is off limits to Bahamians who must eat under a tree or in their cars as there is no canteen. Bahamian Employees are also forced to use outhouses as the restrooms are also off limits.
In relation to the construction work, I am advised the company is not following proper guidelines when it comes to safe environmental practices. Most of the equipment owned by the company leak either or both diesel fuel and hydraulic fluid. There is no effort shown by management to clean up any of the spills which occur. The company does not even have an Environmental Safety Officer on site. I am further advised that some of the foremen have no clue about how to build the various components that must be put in place along the roadway but hold high paying jobs because they are Argentinians.
My sources also advised that no Bahamian contractors beside Bahamas Hot Mix are being employed by the Company. Of course the entire Bahamas knows that Bahamas Hot Mix is owned substantially by DPM Brent Symonette and his Brother in or out of a blind trust. This smells to the highest hills. The Big Rip Off. Clearly Jose Cartellone is badly struggling with this contract as they did in Jamaica where they failed to complete the contract. The PLP warned the FNM about the poor financial track record of this Company. This is part one Ladies and Gentlemen with more to come.
I am also pleased that the first of the new road corridors, under construction as part of the $130 million New Providence Road Enhancement Project, are scheduled for completion in May and June of this year. Nearly 180 Bahamians are presently engaged directly and by way of subcontract on this project.
We expect that portions of these corridors will be integrated into the road network ahead of that time – for example at Saunders Beach where the new traffic circle is likely to become operational in short order permitting work to commence on the development of the beachside park.
We believe the PM has intentionally avoided the issue of Bahamians striking on the job site. His minister of labour is like a cat who has lost his tail and says nothing about the workers. We at BP shall return to the public on this soon. However, we ask the question, “Is Jose Cartellone Constuction company on the verge of Bankruptcy?”.