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Gibson Insists Water Contract Was Clean

Long Island MP and WSC chairman Adrian Gibson.

Long Island MP and WSC chairman Adrian Gibson.

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

Long Island’s $5m water deal went to the only bidder that “substantially” met the Water & Sewerage Corporation’s terms, its chairman saying yesterday: “I don’t believe in hanky panky.”

Adrian Gibson told Tribune Business there were sound reasons why the two-phase infrastructure contract was awarded to BHM Company (Bahamas Hot Mix), rather than a Long Island construction firm that submitted the lowest bid.

Rejecting claims by former PLP chairman, Bradley Roberts, that the Corporation would receive poor “value for money” from an award allegedly influenced by “cronyism”, Mr Gibson said price was not the only factor that determined the outcome.

Construction expertise, especially on similar water infrastructure, and the bidder’s financial strength also weighed heavily in a process that had to comply with Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) requirements given that the multilateral institution is providing the financing.

While confirming Mr Roberts’ claim that Rowdy Boys, the Long Island-based construction firm, submitted the lowest bid of $2.66m, Mr Gibson said it would have been “too risky” to award it the contract.

This, he explained, was because Rowdy Boys’ bid was less than 50 per cent of the valuation placed on the project by the Corporation’s external engineering consultants, who estimated it would cost $5.762 million.

Information provided to Tribune Business showed that Rowdy Boys’ bid was only 68 per cent compliant with the tender’s requirements, containing eight so-called deficiencies, whereas BHM Company’s offer was 96 per cent compliant.

Mr Gibson also revealed that two of the 11 bids, those from Island Site Development (ISD) and Top Notch Builders, were immediately disqualified because of potential ‘conflicts of interest’.

He and the Corporation, in a statement, said the two contractors’ submissions were accompanied by “professional references for individuals” working for the external engineering firm overseeing the Long Island project.

This resulted in the engineering firm’s “termination without prejudice”, with the Corporation planning to meet the two contractors involved to “discuss the matter further”.

“The procurement and tendering process has to be transparent, 100 per cent transparent,” Mr Gibson told Tribune Business. “It’s keeping everything above board, and I’m the type of person that doesn’t believe in hanky panky.

“I don’t subscribe to any corrupt practices. If it existed before my appointment, I’m certainly weeding it out and putting in measures to ensure everyone that submits a bid gets a fair shake.”

He added that bidders on any Corporation, Government or private contract had to understand that they would both win and lose out on different tenders, and said the two contractors’ disqualifications highlighted the need for ‘code of conduct’ requirements for Water & Sewerage vendors.

“Just the potential for a conflict of interest, and this is in accordance with CDB rules, caused that result,” Mr Gibson said. “It’s simply the potential for that to happen triggered the engineering consultant’s removal and two bids to be disqualified.

“We have a vendor due diligence form, and a form that speaks to standards of conduct for vendors. Vendors must be compliant with the Corporation’s standards for how we conduct business. These are all elements, facets of the new business model we’re putting in place.

“The idea is to create an environment of fairness, transparency and competitiveness. We’re anti-corruption, anti-bribery.”

Mr Gibson hit back after Mr Roberts, a former Water & Sewerage chairman, implied in a statement issued on Sunday that the contract award was influenced by “cronyism” because Brent Symonette and his family are shareholders in BHM Company.

Mr Roberts has a long history of targeting the Cabinet minister over this link, and Sunday’s statement was no exception. He attacked the contract award on the basis that BHM Company’s offer was 139 per cent, or $3.14 million more, than the bid submitted by Rowdy Boys.

“As the [former] minister with responsibility for public works and the Water and Sewerage (WSC), I engaged the professional services of Rowdy Boys,” Mr Roberts said. “Therefore, I am well aware of the quality of their work nationwide.

“The mobilisation cost of New Providence-based companies such as BHM places them at a distinct disadvantage, and BHM’s bid price clearly confirms this. Why was the contract not awarded to a local company (Rowdy Boys) with many years of delivering quality work around the Bahamas, and the prospect of saving the cash-strapped Water and Sewerage Corporation over $3 million in the process.

“This contract award is one of the latest decisions of this government to fly in the face of what is now the empty campaign rhetoric of Dr Minnis and the FNM about eliminating public waste, becoming more fiscally responsible and being better stewards of the public purse.”

Information obtained by Tribune Business suggests Mr Roberts’ figures are slightly off. While Rowdy Boys’ bid was $2.266 million, BHM Company’s ‘unadjusted’ bid was even higher than allowed for by the former PLP chairman, coming in at $5.363 million.

This, though, was still below the $5.762 million project ‘costing’ provided by the Corporation’s engineers. Mr Gibson yesterday said other bids were also close to this price, with Bakerwick Construction submitting a $5.726 million offer and Top Notch, one of those disqualified, coming in at $5.861 million.

With such a huge variance between Rowdy Boys’ price and the evaluation by its own consultants, Mr Gibson said it was simply too risky to hand the contract to the Long Island contractor.

“For good project and risk management, you’re injecting a huge element of risk as that’s more than 50 per cent below the professional engineers’ assessment of what a reasonable and experienced contractor will be able to do it for,” the Corporation’s former chairman said of the rationale for rejecting Rowdy Boys.

He emphasised that the Long Island contract “is not just about price”, pointing out that no other contractor came close to matching BHM Company on compliance with the tender’s requirements - including financial strength and construction expertise.

“All bidders with the exception of BHM Company were substantially unresponsive,” the Corporation said in a statement. “Most of the bidders failed the financial requirements by submitting unaudited financial documentation. Several bidders did not utilise the forms that were provided with the tender document.”

Mr Gibson said that out of the 11 bids received, five were priced higher than BHM Company’s winning submission. He added that the offers were all evaluated by an independent Jamaican engineering firm, which had no connection to any of the bidders or their principals.

And, with the CDB financing the project, strict qualifying and transparency rules were applied to the process. “It’s a matter of bringing local contractors into the new century,” Mr Gibson told Tribune Business.

“It’s not getting some documents, putting information in them and focusing on price. We’re past that stage. You must demonstrate you have the financial strength expertise. This is a design and build contract.”

Comments

TalRussell 3 months ago

Ma Comrades, on surface sounds likes logical decision in granting the contract.... nevertheless, when hefty millions dollars variations arise amounting to nearly $3 million more going winning bid, then how peoples public purse's monies are being spent - shouldn't there should be an "automatic independent review" in place with a timely set date complete, report back findings and make report people public. Hopefully, a chairman little to no previous experience granting of multi million dollar contracts from people public's purse, would see a Independent review as fulfilling much promised transparency.

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BahamasForBahamians 3 months ago

Yes.

Apart from the fact that the immediate family(strategically crafted to avoid lawsuits even though he really owns it) of a sitting Cabinet Member owns the company he awarded the contract to - which was double the amount of the runner-up bidders (who coincidentally has a great history of work with successive governments and can be mobilized locally without the need of assistance from the capital) there is nothing wrong.....LOL

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proudloudandfnm 3 months ago

There is a reason the PLP gave Hotmix 86 million in contracts during perry's first term. The PLP made it very clear in the HOA. THERE WAS NO OTHER COMPANY THAT COULD DO THE JOB....

So can the dishonest PLP please shut the hell up?

Thank you...

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BahamasForBahamians 3 months ago

Perry's first term was in excess of 15 years ago.

Since then there are many qualified Bahamians whose ability to lay pipes and build roads are ABOVE market standard.

Did you miss the part in the Article where it was stated that there is a LICENSE AND QUALIFIED FNM COMPANY IN THE NAME OF ROWDY BOYS WHOSE ABILITY TO COMPLETE THE WORK HAS BEEN TRIED AND TESTED UNDER SUCCESSIVE GOVERNMENTS? THE FNM HAS CONTRACTED THESE GUYS IN THE PAST - AND THE RELATIONSHIP WAS MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL AND ENDED AT THE SUCCESSFUL COMPLETION OF THE PROJECT.

If your only argument to defend this clear case of corruption, cronyism and nepotism is the fact the HOTMIX HAD A MONOPOLY on road works nearly a decade ago your tribune242 screen name should PROUDANDLOUDASSHOLE

There is no reason BRENT SYMONETTE should've received this contract having submitted a bid almost DOUBLE that of the runners-up whose company has been passed the trial and test of public works.

This contract is not in the best interest of The Bahamian people and on the surface its benefits only span to Brent $100m Symonette and Adrian Gibson who - after this contract signing - may have cleared his first $1m.

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realfreethinker 3 months ago

BOB you really need to just pause for a moment and read what you wrote an read the article again. To bid 50% less than the actual cost to do the work should give any sane person pause for concern. It is quite clear that this project is beyond the abilities of Rowdy boys. Give it to them and 3 years from now the project will be 50% completed and cost about $10mil. Water and sewerage is battling that issue right now with the sewer plant on gladstone road. It would be helpful if you would be a bit objective in your rants.Take off the yellow colored glasses.

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sucteeth 3 months ago

Dem Rowdy boys dem gonna take all that money and spend it on beer and numbers!! maybe buy some shoes to work in if enough left over.

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

PLPs .......... eat your heart out ......... No need to worry, No hanky panky.

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Ma Comrade Adrian, certainly you have anticipate the People Public may from time to time seek out individuals they feel are deserving recipients offload some their confused rattling noise upon if they should decide digs up old while in opposition files verifiable justification. Clear enough, no? Well here's why cause they thinks they being among 91,409 voting red shirts back on 10th May 2017 just might be owed some kinds transparency explanation as to what in hell happened along the way to your red shirts opposition party's MP colleagues after gaining power... particularly so after remembering how you personally danced to da beat under da excitement becoming elected as Long Island's MP whilst giving your assurances to Long Islanders, and all other Out Islanders, that if elected as member red shirts team to manage nation's business - there would only be the granting government contracts local Islanders.... clear enough, now?

  • RED SHIRTS LONG ISLAND CANDIDATE COMRADE ADRIAN ON CONTRACTS RESERVED ONLY FOR LOCAL LONG ISLANDERS -

............./////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pYNhsWkaWY

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

Why were Cat Islanders not dancing when Brave was giving out all of those big clinic contracts in 2017????????

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vlmarshall 3 months ago

@Tal Russell - did you actually take time to read the article? Saying that on island contracts will be given to locals if fine for smaller jobs but for a multi-million dollar contract wouldn't you want to ensure that the company that is contracted is financially capable and has the necessary experience to ensure that it is done correctly? While I'm sure that the local company may have experience is smaller ventures the fact that they submitted a bid that is half the estimated cost based on the WSC engineering team

" While confirming Mr Roberts’ claim that Rowdy Boys, the Long Island-based construction firm, submitted the lowest bid of $2.66m, Mr Gibson said it would have been “too risky” to award it the contract. This, he explained, was because Rowdy Boys’ bid was less than 50 per cent of the valuation placed on the project by the Corporation’s external engineering consultants, who estimated it would cost $5.762 million. Information provided to Tribune Business showed that Rowdy Boys’ bid was only 68 per cent compliant with the tender’s requirements, containing eight so-called deficiencies, whereas BHM Company’s offer was 96 per cent compliant."

That is a clear indication of not only moving away from the cronyism and nepotism but actually seems like getting the best for the Bahamian purse. The fact that you could find nothing else to say about the article other than "oh, he promised all jobs would go to the locals" is a sad indication of you inability to make logical observations and respond in kind. if you're going to post on every thing that seems to be FNM related at least use your time to make unbiased, significant posts to educate and stop fueling this nonsensical, politically fueled rants that are most times to hard to distinguish its relevance. Some of us younger Bahamians are tired of this old, tired, stupid nonsense that only divides us as a country when we need to start building the Bahamas back together before we have no Bahamas at all.

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TalRussell 3 months ago

Ma Comrade Vlmarshall, I am not red shirts enemy. I am their, lest you forget play-backer.
You couldn't possibly have during the previous 33 minutes before posting to have actually watched the video to have really listened to understanding the scope promise being made to all Out Islanders by the then red shirts opposition party's candidate for Long Island Comrade Adrian. You need return back the video for a rewind and replay get a better understanding of why the 91,409 voting red on 10th May 2017, are having great difficulty trying to identify with what, if any promise, made prior becoming government - the 35 elected red shirts were sincere about... seems now likes every promise came with a, BUT?

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

For Yall Information ......... Rowdy Boys Construction was the company that Jimmy Knowles fronted from back in da day with Ingraham 1.0 ......... Dey made money but got too complacent ......... They got big jobs but get bad name for doing half-ass work with big bucks and bad attitude .......... Now tings tuff and dey crying ..... But they done make up their bed hard ......... Still can't keep a D-8 tractor working for a month to finish the Joaquin farm work on the island ...... Rowdy Boys, go sit small and do better!!!!!!! ........ Ben, Barry and Bernard Knowles ........ BOL

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Economist 3 months ago

Mr. Gibson is correct. Most of the local contractors are unable to produce a set of financials. Not only that, they are unable to accurately assess how much material they need for a project. Most are incapable of managing a project so that it is executed in a timely fashion. I am not saying on time, not too long a delay.

They need to use qualified 'quantity surveyors'. They need qualified accountants to set their books up.

To many construction workers believe that they can be project managers and construction company owners.

Yes Mr. Gibson most of our construction companies are a joke and need to become real businessmen.

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Socrates 3 months ago

sheeprunner 12 is close to the crux of the matter. Rowdy Boys i have been told, is a hard-core FNM bunch who perhaps have certain expectations following from their ties to former FNM Rep JFK, which paid big rewards for years. In this day and age we need to demand professional behaviour from bidders and if you cant fill out forms right, submit required paperwork, and have no qualified professionals employed, in other words a bush operation, you cant expect to play in the big leagues. We cant afford these catastrophes like what happened on Gladstone Road. just because you scrap a tractor and a few dump trucks and give yourself a big company name, doesn't make you one. finally, clearly Bradley Roberts just want to create mischief.. why would he care if a FNM company did not get a contract?

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bogart 3 months ago

Apart from all the various senarios and contract has a number of parts which when put together makes it feasible and with contingencies. Cheapest aint always the best. Every banker loan officer knows all the procedures ....to get a project ..successfully done and with contingencies.... Doing one mile dont mean the other mile will cost the same. Getting it done the fastest dont mean the best. Have to access resources than you cannot think you will need otherwise you stop and difficult to restart.etcrtc Have to look at those who go in cheap and retrieve all da profits intentionally built in first stages, typically happens and then find excuses to legally walk off project.....some really smart contractors out there who can actually make more profits doing this than another who can get the entire job done and make less. Other factors equipment, financial background...but does not nevessarily guarrantee....labour force skills availibility....equipment...materials..taking care of workers...contingencies....benefits to the community....its not just take a look an make a decision....even wid the best you have to hav performance bonds, qualified inspectors to do stage inspections, and yet things can go wrong. Recent case would be the Abaco Coopers Town Shipping Harbour ..despite ok from eia construction went ahead and undergroind challenges appeared causing delays ......careful analysis needed...heavy is the head dat wears da crown..an good pr helps a lot to successfully carry dis out fer the pore, sic, disabled, other people to enjoy good water..

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sheeprunner12 3 months ago

Yall don't look now but Gibson will be a mover and shaker in the near future ......... He is cutting his own path and he is to be commended ............ Long Island is very proud of him!!!!!!!

The secret to political success is not ass-kissing ........ but it is networking and lobbying.

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