A REPEAT OF THE MISMANAGEMENT OF THE PAUL L. ADDERLEY BUILDING?
COMMENTARY BY BRADLEY B. ROBERTS
FORMER CABINET MINISTER AND MP
27 MAY 2018
In light of the mantra of the FNM government to publicly decry public waste and mismanagement, I have had cause on occasions to sound the alarm in pointing out the duplicity of this government in the management of the country’s scarce financial resources. Today I sound the alarm on the apparently stalled construction project on John F. Kennedy Drive just west of the Paul L. Adderley Building.
It is clear that this public structure is substantially complete but work has suddenly stopped because I am advised the contractor, Rev. Lloyd Smith, has been fired. The general public and I have seen this scenario before with the construction of the Paul L. Adderley Building where incidentally Mr. Smith was the general contractor. During the FNM’s last term in office between 2007 and 2012, they fired Mr. Smith. In a very public account of the drama that unfolded, Mr. Smith withheld the balance of the building materials connected with the project. The case was taken to court where it was revealed that he was fired without cause so he was paid the balance of the monies owed to him, he released the balance of the material, and the FNM hired another contractor to complete the project. The problem to the tax paying public was that upon completion, the cost of the building almost doubled even though it was substantially completed. The initial cost was in the range of $12 million. The waste on this project was breath taking with no acceptable explanation coming from the FNM.
I mention the Paul L. Adderley building because I see the Minnis government using the exact script used by the Ingraham government. They have drawn first blood on this project by firing the contractor. Let us watch this scenario unfold.
I can go as far back as 2001 and the government building project in Mangrove Cay Andros. Awarded to Mal Jack Construction for around one million dollars, at completion the cost overruns added another cool million to the project – all billed to the tax payers.
The Garvin Tynes Primary School is another bad example where the infamous and unholy alliance of Mal Jack and the FNM government struck again. According to a Crown Agents audit report, the school was left woefully deficient, the general contractor had no construction insurance and in the end AB Construction was called in to finish the project. You guessed it – the Bahamian tax payers paid through their teeth for this mismanagement.
The remand center in Fox Hill was another requiem of public waste and mismanagement. Here was a $7 million plus building project more than 70% complete when the general contractor, Penn Construction, was fired from the job by the FNM. Wilmot was hired to complete the job but the final cost was in excess of $12 million. The explanation offered by the FNM government was woefully unsatisfactory. The tax payers had to suck it up and pay up.
Bahamians pass that stalled baseball stadium everyday as it deteriorated for one year but I wonder if they realize that the lease on the crane alone is in excess of $150,000 per month not to mention the cost to the contractor and all costs will be eventually passed on to them.
The NPRIP and its cost overrun of $100 million stands as the gold standard of public waste and mismanagement but the FNM shamelessly defended that project debacle.
The $4 million no bid contract on Stephen Dillet Primary School repairs was over expended by more than $1 million but with no explanation from the government. Oh, did I mention that the contractor was Mal Jack? I again draw to the public’s attention that the award of the $5 million contract to Brent Symonette’s company for water mains in Long Island. It is wasteful corrupt cronyism because it is a $2 million job. Further, another multimillion dollar design study of the Glass Window Bridge in Eleuthera is just another way for the FNM government to piss away millions of tax payers’ dollars.
This government talks about fiscal responsibility but it never practiced it. They tabled a show bill in Parliament to support this rhetoric but nothing is as compelling as what you do, not what you say. This is a tax and spend government that is not accountable, transparent or honest. They are free wheeling, casual and loose with the people’s money in practice while talking a good game of fiscal restraint.
I invite Bahamians to closely watch this latest episode involving the new building project on JFK Boulevard. Watch for the government’s explanation on the reasons for dismissing the current contractor, the initial project cost and the completion cost after they would have placed the contractor of their choosing in place.