MAL JACK AND THE FNM GOVERNMENT: AN UNHOLY AND UNHEALTHY LOVE AFFAIR AT THE EXPENSE OF THE BAHAMIAN PEOPLE AND TRANSPARENCY??

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Pictured at far right is Jack Andrews (Mal Jack), FNM lead contractor who was barred by the Ministry of Works for shoddy workmanship on projects including Garvin Tynes primary school. He is seen here now receiving a non-competitive bidding $4 million contract for Stephen Dillet primary school. Photo Yontalay Bowe OPM Media Services

By Bradley B Roberts
Former PLP Chairman and Cabinet Minister

10th December 2017

RELIABLE SOURCES HAVE BROUGHT TO OUR ATTENTION THAT SOME $340,000 OF CHECKS ISSUED BY CONTRACTOR JACK ANDREWS TO THE ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR FOR WORK EXECUTED AT THE STEPHEN DILLET PRIMARY SCHOOL HAVE BOUNCED. MAL JACK HAS ALSO DISAPPEARED AND CANNOT BE FOUND TO RESOLVE THIS ISSUE.

This latest development raises some serious questions that the Prime Minister, who incidentally ran on a campaign of clean, honest, accountable and transparent government must answer:

Why did you approve your substantive ministers, Desmond Bannister and Jeffrey Lloyd, to award a non-competitive multi-million-dollar construction contract without public tender to a company/builder who was banned by the Ministry of Works for shoddy works in the past?

What was the initial contract amount for the construction works at the Stephen Dillet Primary School and the scope of works defined therein?

Was the contract expanded? If yes what additional works were added and at what cost?

Can Bannister and Lloyd confirm if all sub-contractors and workmen have been paid?

How much mobilization funds were paid Mal Jack Construction?

Are these Ministers satisfied with the quality of the works under taken to date?

It is now December 2017– three months after the start of the school year – so will Bannister and Lloyd advise of the completion date for this project and the total cost of the same?

These questions must be answered to the satisfaction of the Bahamian people in the interest of honesty, transparency, open government and accountability.

This is the peoples’ monies and they must be satisfied that they are receiving value for money; that the Ministers are good stewards of the peoples’ monies and that these Ministers are both transparent and accountable for their policy decisions.

There is dark cloud of secrecy and apparent COVERUP over this particular contract and surrounding this unholy and unhealthy relationship between Jack Andrews of Mal Jack Construction. Dr. Minnis must come clean to the Bahamian people on the status of this contract and not sweep this one under the proverbial carpet. Minister Jeff Lloyd who was critical of the PLP government while he sat in a radio studio, announced multiple completion dates for this project and to date it is reported that about $4 million of the peoples’ monies have been expended on this project and the work is still not completed.

Jack Andrews has an ignoble record as a government approved contractor. He was awarded a contract for the construction of the government administrative complex in Mangrove Cay only to incur cost overruns of one million dollars on a one million-dollar contract; that is 100%.

Who could forget the multimillion dollar contract to construct the Garvin Tynes Primary School on Alexandria Boulevard in City 2000. Not only did Mr. Andrews fail to secure construction insurance, but major components of the scope of work were not done and his work was assailed in an independent audit report by Crown Agents. Mr. Andrews collected his funds, walked off the incomplete job and the FNM government simply hired AB Construction to complete the job and correct the shoddy workmanship of Jack Andrews at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the tax payers and without penalty to Mal Jack.

Having been banned from the government approved bidders list, the FNM cried foul and victimization on his behalf from the floor of the House; none other Minister Earl Deveaux pleaded his case. He was awarded another multimillion dollar contract for repairs at the Government High School. Months after the opening of the school year coloured photos appeared on the front page of the Tribune about unfinished work at the school and the potential safety hazard to the students and staff at that school. Most egregious was a stairwell condemned by the technical officers at the Ministry of Works and included in the scope of work for repair. Mr. Andrews failed to repair same and students could be seen using the stairwell to the detriment of their health and safety.

The record is clear. Jack Andrews has an ignoble record as a government contractor and he was banned from the government’s approved list of bidders for very good and sound reasons. I trust the professional judgment of the technical staff at the Ministry of Works – but politics keeps getting in the way of the public interests. The unacceptable work on the government’s administration building took place during the 1990’s and here we are in 2017 with the very same questions being asked about the workmanship, general reliability and competence of one Jack Andrews but the FNM continue to ignore these complaints as they continue this special love and affinity for this bad contractor.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS UNHOLY AND UNHEALTHY LOVE AFFAIR BETWEEN THE FNM GOVERNMENT AND MAL JACK??!! HIS IS A SCORCHED RECORD OF SHAME AND DISGRACE – SHODDY WORK – OVER BUDGET – EXCESSIVE DELAYS – SUBCONTRACTORS NOT PAID AND INCOMPLETE WORK.

PM Minnis, Minister Bannister and Minister Lloyd owe it not to me but to the Bahamian people to come clean on the status of the maintenance work at the Stephen Dillet Primary school. Further, in light of the terrible history of and numerous citations against Mal Jack, why does the FNM government continue to demonstrate such great and unconditional commitment to him when the government should be unconditionally committed to protecting the public interest and building up the common good?

The public is reminded that Prime Minister Minnis clearly had a special interest in the Stephen Dillet contract as he took time from his busy schedule to visit and inspected the school during the recent construction works.

This unholy and unhealthy loyalty – whether Mal Jack be FAMILY, FRIEND OR LOVER – is clearly not in the best interest of the public nor does it build up the common good.