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No Repairs For Destroyed Dormitory Until Rest Of Bamsi Is Completed

The BAMSI blaze in January 2015.

The BAMSI blaze in January 2015.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Bahamas Agriculture & Marine Science Institute dormitory set on fire in January will not be repaired until all other BAMSI buildings are completed, Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis told reporters yesterday.

Nearly six months after the arson attack on BAMSI’s male dormitory, exact reconstruction details of the dorm remain unknown, however.

It is not known whether the government will foot the entire bill to reconstruct the dorm, which was never insured. Mr Davis did reveal last month, however, that the government will not use the same contractor to rebuild the structure.

“What we are doing is completing all the other buildings (at BAMSI first) and then we will move to complete (the fire-damaged dorm),” Mr Davis, who is also minister of works, said yesterday.

The Christie administration allocated $21m for this fiscal year to BAMSI, according to the government’s 2015/2016 budget draft estimates.

Of this amount, $14m has been set aside for capital development while the Ministry of Agriculture has set aside $7m in recurrent expenditure for the institution.

When asked in May if this allowance includes money to repair the destroyed BAMSI building, State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis said the money is for general BAMSI expenses.

The dorm was destroyed by a suspected arson attack on January 15.

In February, controversy broke when Mr Davis revealed that the dormitory constructed by contractor Audley Hanna of Paradigm Construction was never insured.

He had previously said in the House of Assembly that at the time of the fire, the contractor’s all-risk insurance policy had lapsed due to non-payment.

This prompted FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis to urge the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to investigate contracts relating to the project.

In view of contradictory statements by government officials, questions have been raised in the past about how much money has already been spent on BAMSI.

Last October, Prime Minister Perry Christie said no more than $23m had been spent on the project, contradicting an earlier statement Agriculture Minister V Alfred Gray made in September 2014 that the government doled out $50m on BAMSI.

PAC chairman Hubert Chipman yesterday said his committee is still waiting for BAMSI documents to be presented to the group.

“We wrote to the minister of works and minister of agriculture requesting information on BAMSI,” Mr Chipman said.

“Nothing has happened,” he added, noting that he requested documents on the matter “over three months ago.”

“You livin’ in a jokey country,” he added.

Mr Davis has said it will cost $5.5m to rebuild the destroyed BAMSI dorm, which will be reconfigured from single occupancy to double.

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