Crime, overpayments and shoddy work blamed as construction costs triple

By AVA TURNQUEST Tribune Staff Reporter aturnquest@tribunemedia.net CONSTRUCTION costs for a government complex skyrocketed to more than triple the initially contracted sum as a result of "defective work", overpayments, and suspected criminal activity, according to documents tabled in the House of Assembly. Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham revealed that an investigation was requested into allegations that the initial general contractor Holiday Industrial Builders Limited wrongfully removed and withheld materials; however, the matter has not been resolved. The structure located west of the Ministry of Works building on John F Kennedy Drive, now proposed as the new Ministry of Tourism, was originally contracted in 2004 for $5,897,783.17. Mr Ingraham said the total cost of the project was just over $14 million as of September 2008 as a result of major changes to the project and overpayments under the former administration, and an ongoing dispute with the general contractor. "The National Insurance Board has incurred significant cost to complete construction of the Ministry of Tourism building due to defective work that was completed by the initial general contractor, Holiday Industrial Builders Ltd as well as the disappearance of certain material from the site which were procured by the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation for the construction of the building and are still in the possession of Holiday Industrial Builders Limited," he said. Materials reportedly still in the possession of Holiday Industrial were valued at $700,000 and include, a generator set; doors and associated hardware; lighting fixtures; mosaic glass and porcelain wall and floor tiles; and cement pavers. Mr Ingraham tabled the documents in response to a question asked by North Andros MP Vincent Peet. Mr Peet, a Progressive Liberal Party candidate, requested a detailed account of all expenditure to date on the building located west of the Ministry of Works building on John F Kennedy Drive. The building had been originally slated for the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation and the Department of Housing, when the first contract for its construction was signed between the Bahamas Mortgage Corporation (BMC) and Lloyd Smith of Holiday Industrial Builders Limited. The BMC terminated its contract with Holiday Industrial in November 2008, after which an independent review of the project by Construction Cost Engineering was commissioned by the National Insurance Board. Cost overruns were also attributed to "erratic" project management, according to the report, which indicated that the original contract documents were inadequate and did not include cost control schedules to guide the valuation of interim certificates and change orders. According to the CCE report, overpayments to Holiday Industrial, exclusive of professional fees, stood at $2.1 million between 2004 and 2007. It stated that overpayments were the result of arithmetical and miscalculation errors in authorized payment requests sent by the contractor; the incorrect application and record keeping of payment deductions; and the failure to record direct purchases made on behalf of the contractor by the BMC. Mr Ingraham said: "The replacement of the metal standing seam rod was a result of the initial rooking having been installed incorrectly. Similarly, the standing seam panels were incorrectly fastened to the roof structural members and as a result they were separating away from the roof structural frame. He added: "It is to be noted that although the original specifications included the installation of hurricane impact windows these were not installed." The NIB contracted Jones Construction Company to complete the building in September 2009. Further inspections revealed that the wiring installation performed by both Holiday Industrial Builders and Jones Construction Company Ltd were not completed to design specifications and in some instances violated the country's building code. However, Mr Ingraham said the work passed inspection by both the Design Consultants and the Ministry of Works. Mr Ingraham said officials are preparing a formal complaint on the faulty installation to be submitted to the Professional Architects and Engineers Board. The building is partially occupied and was slated for completion on March 1. However, it was unclear last night whether or not all the required repairs had been completed.


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