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What A Stinker – Daming Report Reveals Extent Of Problems At Wsc

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, the current chairman of the WSC.

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, the current chairman of the WSC.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

AUDITOR EY has painted a damning picture of the Water & Sewerage Corporation in its audit report of the institution, portraying a corporation awash with irregularities.

In particular, the debacle of the Gladstone Road Waste Water Treatment Plant (GRWWTP) is exposed. Despite a budget overrun of more than 80 percent, not since September 2016 has work been performed on the incomplete project, which was expected to receive and treat waste water from Baha Mar and return it for irrigation purposes.

Senior WSC officials were alarmed by how the project had gone off the rails, with former Chairman Leslie Miller saying in a 2016 WSC board meeting that the project had not been publicly declared “a stinker” only because it was “out of sight”.

“If this was out there like the (government) building next to the Paul Adderley (building) this would have been a headline long time,” he said. “God only bless us it is behind God’s back and you cannot see it.”

The plant, initially budgeted at $9.6m with a completion date of 2014, has cost taxpayers at least $17m so far, EY said.

Long Island MP Adrian Gibson, the current chairman of the WSC, tabled EY’s report in Parliament yesterday and said it would be sent to police.

Investigators identified Merlene Poitier as one of the shareholders in the contracting company for the GRWWTP project, Nassau Island Development (NID). EY reported that she works in the law firm of Deputy Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis, with Mr Gibson saying yesterday she is believed to be a secretary there. The company’s other shareholder is identified as Anthony L Ferguson.

Highlighting the relationship with NID and Mr Davis, EY uncovered an email in which the company lobbied “for a WSC employee to receive a promotion”.

Mr Davis subsequently reported the request to WSC’s General Manager Glen Laville, saying in correspondence: “The case is compelling could you look into and resolve?”

In the last week, Mr Davis has repeatedly emphasised he has not seen EY’s report and was not given a chance to respond to its revelations that may concern him.

He repeated this yesterday.

As he tabled the report, Mr Gibson said NID appeared to have an “angel” on its side.

He said notwithstanding the recommendations from the then board, management and consultants to terminate NID’s contract and/or not make any additional payments, countless board minutes and emails show that the recommendations were “overruled”; that there were “external influences and manipulation”; that they were able to “evade termination.”

In a March 9, 2016, board meeting, it was stated that the board and management had been directed to “seek a cost and completion strategy”; and to “continue (the) engagement of NID,” he said.

Among other things, the contractor of the incomplete project did not secure a performance bond as is required during tendering processes, investigators said, noting requirements in this regard were continually relaxed on the apparent advice of senior government officials.

Twice payments were ordered for NID over senior public servants’ considerable objections.

In the first instance in 2014, former WSC Chairman Lester Cox ordered the WSC to “make an advance payment” of $1.2m.

But EY said: “WSC management resisted and explained the amount the contractor had been paid to date was substantially more than what was reflected in the construction progress and that making the advance payment would negatively impact WSC’s ability to manage the project.”

Mr Cox, in various emails, appeared irritated that senior officials questioned the requests.

In one email to Mr Laville he said: “We sat in the meeting at 10am with the JV and I am amazed that we are still discussing while the project is at a standstill. Maybe I did not make the minister’s request clear so I repeat. FACILITATE THE PAYMENT so that this project can come to a completion.”

The report does not specify what minister Mr Cox was referring to, but Mr Davis was the minister of works with responsibility for WSC at the time.

In another instance, several months before work was halted on the project, $1m was ordered paid to NID.

EY said the payment “circumvented all internal controls of the corporation and severely handicapped WSC’s ability to adequately manage NID”.

That $1m, EY said, was not included in the project’s overall $17.3m cost tag, meaning the project had a budget overrun of “approximately 91 percent” if it were to be included.

Colin Higgs, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Works, was among those not in support of the $1m payment.

On April 26, 2016, he wrote to former State Minister of Finance Michael Halkitis and former Financial Secretary Simon Wilson, saying: “When it came to my attention that an officer in the MOF (Ministry of Finance) was directed to request my ministry to facilitate payment of $1m to NID for the competition of works related to the GRWWTP, I made known to you my reservation for making the payment without consultation with WSC management and documentation to support such a payment. However, despite this, the payment was made… In my opinion, the $1m payment to NID compromises WSC’s management of the GRWWTP contract and puts them, the project manager consultant and consultant QS in the challenging position of having to reconcile with the contractor outstanding payment for works completed and to account for a substantial sum one money that was provided to the contractor on account to undertake works that are not yet completed or stated.”

Mr Higgs continued: “This payment, in my view, results in the project being at a high risk of failure to complete within the recommended and Cabinet approved $2.8m… I have now been provided with documentation to sign as chief financial officer MW&Ud (Ministry of Works and Urban Development) to approve the $1m payment. I wish to go on record as not supporting this transaction.”

In addition, EY said WSC raised concerns about NID’s relatively low score on the “technical aspect” of the bid during the tendering process. The contractor received a score of 71.5 when the minimum acceptable score is 70.

“Although WSC raised concerns about the low score, the contract was ultimately awarded to NID with the understanding that they would partner with another firm to bolster their technical capabilities,” EY said.

As for the performance bond, EY said: “NID was unable to secure the 200% bond (eg, $15m) required by the tender, which would typically have disqualified them from the bid. NID was first given permission to secure a 25 per cent bond and was awarded the contract. Although the contract was awarded in March 2013, the contractor continued to struggle to secure the bond through June 2014. Finally, the contractor was ultimately allowed to seek a bond worth only 10 per cent of the original contract value.”

EY said WSC management consistently blamed the project’s budget-overruns and delays on ATS Chesters Engineers, a third-party contractor hired to manage the day-to-day progress of the project.

Management took “little to no responsibility themselves for what one executive tabled the ‘worst project I have ever been a part of’,” EY said.

Management blamed ATS Chesters Engineers for selecting NID “despite technical shortcomings” and for misleading the corporation about the overall costs associated with the project, according to EY.

“When asked why WSC wasn’t more involved with daily project management and why so much reliance was placed on third parties to supervise a project of this scale, WSC management consistently referenced a lack of expertise and shortage of resources,” EY said.

In a board meeting on February 23, 2016, Mr Miller and Mr Laville are highlighted discussing the project.

Mr Laville said: “Let me paint a very realistic picture: the agreement and rates that we have with Baha Mar will not cover the cost of operating this plant and satisfying the debt, so we are going to be in a losing situation from the time we start off.”

Yesterday evening, Mr Gibson told The Tribune decisions related to the project are “forthcoming”.

Comments

proudloudandfnm 6 months, 2 weeks ago

My god. Between the criminal PLP and this new bumbling and apparently criminal FNM we are left with zero choices to run our country.

We are in real trouble.

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BahamasForBahamians 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Failed Distraction.

These guys are pretty a much a year in and still referring to the previous administration?

After miserably blundering the Oban deal, spending nearly all of their political capital they expect to distract us from their deficincies ?!

NEWSFLASH HUBERT'S LITTLE POODLE - we do not care about Perry and his gang.

Your team has failed even more miserably - to an extent that you've even blundered the opportunity to hold Perry and his gang of crooks accountable for their past misdealings.

Just look at the Frank Smith Case!

Furthermore - how do you expect us to take you serious on stamping out corruption when a convicted fraudster commits forgery in front of your leader?

Any further reference to the previous administration by this gang should be received as an admission of failure and lack of direction!

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Dawes 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Umm i care about Perry and his gang. If they have been found to do illegal stuff then i want them in jail and to have the proceeds from doing this taken from them. Only if this happens will we be able to turn off this constant mismanagement and outright stealing that goes on over here.

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BahamasForBahamians 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The Prime Minister can turn off this constant mismanagement by dispelling corruption in his own camp.

He can resign for allowing a convicted fraudster to be partnered with our country on an international scale and further perpetuating his actions by forging a document in the presence of a nations leaders and on live television.

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Dawes 6 months, 2 weeks ago

And if he is derelict in his duty then i expect him to face repercussions. I am not a party person but a Bahamian and i am sick and tired of the so called leaders of this country making as much money for themselves whilst watching their fellow Bahamians struggle.

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OldFort2012 6 months, 2 weeks ago

In a normal country, the said "Merlene Poitier" would be now arrested and be given the choice of 20 years behind bars with all her assets frozen or spilling the beans on the real beneficiary.

But since we all know that the money went to Brave and that this is the Bahamas and that every politician thinks it is perfectly reasonable to loot the Public Treasury, nothing will happen. And we will remain a Third World Country.

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BahamasForBahamians 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Arrested for what? Doing work for the government ? She is not a government official. What prevents her from doing work for the government?

What disqualifies her from working for davis and co after or during the tenure of her contract?

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OldFort2012 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Arrested for fraud. Did she receive the money? Yes. Did she deliver the project? No. Did she receive twice as much money as was in the contract? Yes. Did she partner up with another firm as the contract required? No. Why not? That is all fraud. And I am aghast that you can't see it.

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DWW 6 months, 2 weeks ago

BahamasforBahamians - either you are completely oblivious or obviously not bahamian or for the bahamas

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ohdrap4 6 months, 1 week ago

I checked the dictionary:

PLP trool (noun) : completely oblivious or obviously not bahamian or for the bahamas

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Minnis ordered the release of this EY report on WSC to distract attention away from his own shenanigans involving Oban Energies and its crooked agents and principals. The Tribune may have taken the bait but the public at large will not fall victim to doing so. We the people are still waiting on a proper explanation from Minnis as to how and why he has allowed our government to become entangled with the charlatans behind Oban Energies.

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observer2 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This project really needs to be removed off the balance sheet of the WSC and transferred into Resolve where it can be "quietly" managed next to the BoB non performing loans.

Once it is on the balance sheet of Resolve the government can then raise another $100 million so this waste water treatment plan can be built correctly.

The police must be overwhelmed with all of the E&Y reports being given to them with no additional forensic, financial or technical staffing.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, I was disappointingly waiting for the Junior House Member for Long Island to have dropped bombshell of there being discovery two agreements signed between WSC and NID. There's no smokin fake Satpal Dhunna signature here - so let's return back something more current and pressing for Grand Bahamalanders - likes Oban.
The PLP were put on trial before the public on May 10, 2017 and unanimously found be found guilty many sins against the People.... but "It's the Red Shirts time........be charged and brought before da same People - who judged the PLP." The Member Long Island - cannot expect impartially serve on People's jury- cause of whom he has aligned himself with. .

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 2 weeks ago

The Bahamas cannot solve its problems because when problems (like WSC report) are reported, jackasses like many of the above commenters are making fun of the serious nature of the problem ............... This is what sensible investigators do ....... just look at Mueller & Trump.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrade Sheeprunner12, so right you are this is about the serious business nation .....well almost but not the only serious business needing looking into.....the only current concerning part you left out was to call for (Independent) team of Forensic Auditors to examine the Heads of Agreement document which was tabled on floor House of Assembly - to certify that's its the very same, unchanged, HOA that was signed up in cabinet office's media show pertaining be with fake signature Satpal Dhunna. Do you agree... cause we all knows how KP just loves appoint all kinds auditors -all at expense empty public purse. Maybe you trust the reds, a growing number citizens - no longer trust anything they promised or says. My argument on PLP goes much deeper than yours considering I believe they are not capable offering themselves as a political party as opposition to the current red government and should finish off from May 10, 2017, with the disbanding the party..... still what the government did in cabinet office with HOA, remains offensive and must be stopped.

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bogart 6 months, 2 weeks ago

There are good and bad politicians........Kudos to any politician who exposes corruption The people who suffer are those who are the least able to fend for themselves. Paying a larger portion of VAT on survival than the wealthier and precious resources diverted from creating opportuniyies...for all Sadly further benefits they could have had to better their lives are now being found in blatent corruption.........despite supporters trying to not have investigations....and this is not to say that fraud does not exist on both sides. Despiye the political objectionists, friends, lovers and die hard supporters cronies, butt kissers, vehemently denying, misleading, bombbast, protecting, it is expected that .......criminal actions fraud be punished to the fullext of the law. Roc wid Doc as Prime Minister of the entire Bahamas must be given credit for his stand against curruption...!! Amazing,..Shocked....!!L

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DDK 6 months, 2 weeks ago

WE THE PEOPLE ARE SICK AND TIRED OF HAVING THE PEOPLE'S MONEY STOLEN BY AND UNDER THE NOSES OF SUCCESSIVE BAHAMIAN GOVERNMENTS. It is truly sickening. It's like - how much can we tief before we get catch? When we get catch they don't do nuttin anyway.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, an audit which could end up costing public purse $1 million to dug up obituary then minister's mother but forgot to mention WSC is still broke and offered not single idea moving WSC forward..... million dollars digging up obituary which the auditors would have easily obtained from newspaper and for free. Not sigle mention that at least one mentioned in the audit was a Papa Hubert appointee. {I'd have made this audit up $100,000 and offered payment terms - cause EY is no charitable institute}. This does not meet audit smell test, far from it but provides juicy gossip for the reds peddle as they try survive for another day as a government... maybe the member Long island can tell us if he's ever seen the face mystery belonging to the fake signature Krieger signed on Oban's HOA? Will the member Long Island now ask Brent to release all dates on immigration files of the mystery face having been physical on Bahamaland's soil? This is all about Santa clause.

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DWW 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Look Tal. a small word of advice. if you are not offering positive you are adding to the negative and only adding to the problem. Please try to be constructive, intelligent and progressive. as it is you are just making statements of a blathering idiot. sorry but its true. i've read teh junk you have written here for the past 5 or 6 years (how long as tribune242 been around?) you are embarassing, honestly please stop you make the bahamas look bad. from now on i will troll you across this platform.

every post you make every snarl you take every single day every time i pray i'll be watching you

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 2 weeks ago

So how many have gone to jail so far? Just the one lady from C.O.B. right?

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 2 weeks ago

All I can say is I hope this aint NID from GB.. nobody in their right mind would hire them jokers for anything. They basically have a junk yard in Freeport Harbour...

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TigerB 6 months, 2 weeks ago

No matter how you slice it, the fact are the facts, bottom line? Dirty, dirty , dirty, but these fellas wanted to get back in, and some want them back in... to finish the job I guess..I think more forensic audits are on the way, we wait and see. If I'm not mistaken, all of us that work and pay taxes are affected here, I can find one excuse for them squandering the money to they own !

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realitycheck242 6 months, 2 weeks ago

All the principles associated with NID should be doing the bank lane or nassau street shuffle very soon ! There is enough forensic for a solid case.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, leaks coming out windows Churchill Building are saying 58% members Imperial red cabinet are becoming even more confused over Minnis's weird behaviour. This has be accurate reading on red cabinet when considering a number among the dissatisfied 58% have voiced privately that the PM is doing a terrible job at explaining his decisions. This leak out cabinet must haves some credibility - that is unless there's another explanation behind a secret meeting tooking place between some the 58% cabinet ministers and former red MP's involved in successful red coup against Minnis... no one is saying whether Loretta was there or not?

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OMG 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I just wish that w & S would provide water at reasonable pressure every day for 24 hours in Eleuthera. Disgusting part time water rationing service.

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ohdrap4 6 months, 1 week ago

can't you get a well or rain water tank at your location?

surely it could makeup the shortfall.

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birdiestrachan 6 months, 2 weeks ago

They are clueless, so they continue to live in the past and cast blame. They only have four more years to blunder along. There first year were the biggest blunders made in the history of the Bahamas Speaker Moultrie and OBAN. All 34 of them are BLANK and their ;leader is the blankness of all. The blind leading the blind. and none know any better.

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Greentea 6 months, 2 weeks ago

This is why the PLP will never win an election with Brave Davis as leader. I ain’t saying he is corrupt but he sure seems close to a lot of corrupt activities.

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TalRussell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Ma Comrades, public purse funded audits should report all the positive and bad, regardless of whether it reflects positively or negatively on the previous or current government. However, I have yet see such evidence this in any many audits accumulating to costing up $100 million AND put out 'without tender' by KP. I guess the reds complete lack transparency contract letting are above reproach. Hardly so. they're human ways politicians too.

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hrysippus 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Are Bad smelling contracts at Water and Sewerage, .. . . . .... Rank ministerial abuse of privilege? .. ... . . . ... These contracts for cronies just won't go away, . . . .... No matter what Davis or Mitchell might say, . . . ..... The plp cabinet look like a bunch of buffoons, . . . ... ... With the same amount of sense as that duck in Looney Tunes, . . ... Corruption in the government always leaves a trail, . . . .... .. That ends up with a minister applying for his bail, . . . ..... I for one think that if youre low-life scum, . . . . .. .... You deserve to be in jail when your trial is done.

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stillwaters 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Tribune.....it's damning, not daming.

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truetruebahamian 6 months, 2 weeks ago

I wonder if I can get money back for being paid up member of both major political parties, or would I have to have paid up NIB proof, paid up business licence, proof, property tax and VAT as well as a current driver's licence and passport and other proof of identity and certificates of compliance.

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DWW 6 months, 2 weeks ago

So when is someone actually going to be held accountable or is this just more bread and circus, horse and pone show? More rhetoric less action! Which is the standard operating procedure of 90% of politicians around the globe. Show the poeple you really mean business and are not really just best buds of the guys across the aisle. show some guts, get some glory.

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Greentea 6 months, 2 weeks ago

These reports are about emotionalism and distraction. Good to know of course but if no one willl be held accountable- and I don’t think ANYONE will- what’s the point?

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 1 week ago

Exactly ........... What will be done about the Brave Davis' and Execs' abuse of WSC??????

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bogart 6 months, 1 week ago

....as part of the nomenklatura...the same fixed group of bureaicrats and politicians....no matter which new govt the people chooses....there are still there linked like W&S executives and politivian in Exuma. ...these revelations are exceptionally good thanks to the trailblazing reporters for the Tribune.....we are all VAT taxpers and in all fairness thanks to the present govt...the bold MP Gibson..but now lets see the full justice done......for all the rest of the nation (375,000 less those involved).......deproving the poor, all those parents denying themselves necessities so they can feed their children,...the poor who just go hungry, needy, needing hospital beds, needing social services, who were deprived of benefits they too could have enjoyed from governance....justice delayed is justice denied

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