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Row Over Hot Mix Contracts

By CELESTE NIXON Tribune Staff Reporter cnixon@tribunemedia.net BAHAMAS Hot Mix has been awarded at least $77 million in contracts over the last 10 years, according to the Minister of Works. Neko Grant tabled a list of all government contracts issued to Bahamas Hot Mix in Parliament on Monday, in response to questions by Golden Gates incumbent Shane Gibson. Not included in the estimation of the total was a contract jointly awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix and Bethell's Trucking and Heavy Equipment for $13.5 million for roadworks in the wake of Hurricane Frances, as it is unclear how the funds were split. Contrary claims that Bahamas Hot Mix is awarded the majority of government paving jobs to the exclusion of other private sector firms, Mr Grant said just under $245 million in road contracts have been awarded to private firms between 2007 to 2011. Of the 18 Bahamas Hot Mix contracts listed from 2002 to date, 10 contracts were awarded through negotiation with the company, five contracts were awarded after public tender of the project and the remaining three through invited or selected tender. The contract for the Queen Elizabeth Sports Centre Redevelopment Project (phase 1A and 1B) was the largest awarded to Bahamas Hot Mix, in April 2011 for $48.5 million through a public tender. The project is expected to be completed in January 2013. The second biggest contract was awarded in April 2006. Additional funding approved in April 2009 brought the total to $10.5 million for development of the Marsh Harbour International Airport. The opposition has repeatedly accused Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette of conflict of interest, alleging that, despite his denials, he benefits from government contracts awarded to certain companies, including Bahamas Hot Mix. Mr Symonette has strenuously denied this, explaining that while his children's trust may have a small investment in the company, he does not, and that he played absolutely no part in any of the competitive processes or negotiations of contracts.

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