By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
HOLIDAY Industrial Builders is suing the government for terminating its $20m contract to construct a complex on John F Kennedy drive to house the Ministry of National Security, according to Public Services and National Insurance Minister Brensil Rolle.
To complete the building, the Minnis administration has awarded a no-bid contract of unknown value to Inline Project Company Ltd.
It’s a case of having been there before for the government.
The first Christie administration hired HBI to construct the Paul Adderley Complex on JFK Drive in 2004. However, the last Ingraham administration terminated that contract and gave it to Jones Construction Company, citing “defective work.” HBI principal Rev Lloyd Smith then sued the government, eventually winning $700,000 after arbiters concluded his contract was wrongfully terminated.
“There was no finding of sub-standard work made by arbitrators,” said Kelphene Cunningham, Mr Smith’s lawyer, in a legal correspondence written around that time. “Ingraham’s cessation of the contract was purely for political expediency.”
In opposition, the FNM criticised the second Christie administration for awarding the $20 million contract to Mr Lloyd in 2014. This year, the Minnis administration terminated HBI’s contract because of its alleged failure to complete the building by deadline.
Mr Rolle said HBI never mobilised to complete the building.
“When we came to office this building was incomplete,” Mr Rolle said. “We sat with Lloyd and all the persons involved. We agreed to a May deadline to be completed and it wasn’t completed.
“I know he’s done some work in the past that there were some questions about, but we didn’t make our judgment based on his performance in the past,” he added.
Nonetheless, Minnis administration officials have often criticised the Progressive Liberal Party over the years for its no-bid contract awards.
Asked why a tender process was ignored in this case, Mr Rolle said: “We made a determination based on the performance of the contractor and the push for time because the furniture for the building was already ordered and will be here very shortly, so we wanted to go to a contractor we believe could complete the building in the shortest time possible. (It’s) not a question of no-bid. The timetable we had would not allow us to do that especially because the furniture was ordered. We had to make a judgment to find someone who is performing, who has done work on behalf of the government and has the ability to complete the work.”
The worth of the contract awarded to Inline Project Company is unclear; Mr Rolle declined to give a figure.
“We anticipate that (the National Insurance Board) will have to inject a small amount of money to get it complete,” he said.
However, statements by one of the project’s contractors to The Tribune allege the contract’s value is above the threshold that should trigger a formal bidding process.
The contractor said it may cost as much as $2m to finish the building. He said when workers mobilised three weeks ago, the building was about 90 percent complete. Some modifications were required, but he described the work done so far as sound, though lacking in finishing details. He said the building should be finished by August and ready for use by September. The building has already been outfitted with many pieces of furniture, The Tribune was told.