Town Centre Mall. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
OPPOSITION Leader Philip "Brave" Davis said yesterday Friday's broken valve incident at the General Post Office illustrates the fact that renovations done to Town Centre Mall to accommodate the facility were not done in accordance with "acceptable international standards for postal services".
Mr Davis also contended the contradiction between the House of Assembly resolution regarding the lease of TCM for the post office and former Cabinet minister Brent Symonette's admission that Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis called him personally to negotiate the deal represents a "constitutional crisis".
On Friday, Transport Minister Renward Wells said operations at the General Post Office continued with minimal impact after a broken valve caused mail and employees to be showered with water.
Mr Davis referred to this incident as an "embarrassing debacle".
"Apparently that early morning call between the owner Brent Symonette, then a Cabinet minister and the prime minister and the subsequent dishonest House resolution led
to shoddy workmanship, negligence and short cuts which caused the incident," he said.
"Moreover, the incompetence of the FNM government has not only created an unsafe workplace, compromising the health, safety and wellbeing of scores of workers, but the controversial House resolution is likely to create a constitutional crisis, subject to a credible legal challenge."
When asked if the Official Opposition has any concerns about how the General Post Office will operate, Mr Davis said "certainly".
He said information coming to the party shows the renovations done to the facility to accommodate the post office were not done "in accordance with acceptable international standards for postal services."
He also said: "And that that may have happened because of the manner in which the works are being executed because of the incompetence and the rush to respond to the public outcry about them leasing the Town Centre Mall in the first place.
"And so we are concerned about the safety and security of workers at the Town Centre Mall. We've always been concerned about the structural integrity of the Town Centre Mall and we continue to be."
Last week, Dr Minnis welcomed the Official Opposition's pledge to move a no-confidence motion against him in the House of Assembly but sidestepped questions about the TCM lease.
He did not directly answer questions about Mr Symonette's claim that the pair discussed mall lease details before the parliamentary resolution permitting the lease was passed. Critics, including former Attorney General Alfred Sears, QC, believe Mr Symonette's revelation calls into question the legitimacy of the resolution.
Yesterday Mr Davis said, in accordance with Westminster conventions, after the "lies were exposed" the Minnis administration should have "immediately" stepped down or called an election.
"The House resolution meant to absolve Mr Symonette of any wrongdoing contradicted Mr Symonette's account of the process, effectively creating a constitutional crisis for the government," he said.
When asked to clarify these remarks, Mr Davis pointed to the Westminster system.
"There's a Westminster protocol and convention that particularly members of Cabinet ought not mislead - and that's one way, because you can mislead without lying in some way, you just fudge the truth or lie to parliament.
"Because once that is done, you're no longer honourable and you need to be stepping down.
". . .There's several missteps in this. And therefore the missteps are as such that we need to call an election and we want you to repose confidence back in us. It becomes a constitutional issue because they remain in office with this pall of immorality hanging over their head, having (misled) Parliament and to the Bahamian people."