By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
A probe into complaints over a $5m contract awarded to BHM Company (Bahamas Hot Mix) found “no wrong doing”, a Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) executive said yesterday.
Daniel Best, its director of projects, defended the $28.5m Water Supply Improvement project, which is being carried out by the Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC) using a CDB loan, following accusations made two years ago that the award to BHM did not represent good value for money.
Among BHM’s shareholders is a trust for the children of former cabinet minister, Brent Symonette, and then-PLP chairman, the late Bradley Roberts, claimed that the contract awarded to it for work on Long Island was influenced by “cronyism” as the company was not the lowest bidder.
But Mr Best told Tribune Business: “That project was procured in accordance, and in alignment, with our procurement policies and guidelines, and it followed international best practice. The complaint would have been referred to our office of integrity complaints and assurance, and it would have done a thorough investigation. The investigation is completed, and the project is moving forward successfully. No wrong doing was found in that project and it is actually progressing quite well.”
Adrian Gibson, the Water and Sewerage Corporation’s executive chairman, said at the time that BHM was the only bidder to “substantially” meet the tender terms and conditions. Rowdy Boys, the Long Island-based construction firm, submitted the lowest bid of $2.66m, but 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 percent 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 at the time 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.
BHM Company’s ‘unadjusted’ bid was $5.363m, which was still below the $5.762m project ‘costing’ provided by the Corporation’s engineers. Other bids were also close to this price, with Bakerwick Construction submitting a $5.726m offer and Top Notch, one of those disqualified, coming in at $5.861m.
Mr Best, meanwhile, said yesterday of the $28.5m project’s progress: “Right now we have actually completed works on New Providence. In some of the Family Islands there are some works to be done, but we expect that to be completed within this calendar year.
“Coming on to the end of last year would have slowed a bit, obviously because of the impact of Dorian unfortunately. But the rest of the works are expected to be completed within this year. So it was approved in 2015 and approximately 65 percent of the project has already been disbursed. We believe it will be completed by this calendar year.”
Asked whether the CDB needs additional staffing in member countries, Mr Best said: “The bank has no offices outside of Barbados, except for Haiti, and at this time there are no direct plans for that. But we will be putting measures in place to continue to monitor and be more responsive to our projects in The Bahamas a lot more closely, and in a far more timely manner.”
“We have the energy project in terms of the street lighting, and we also have the water project. We already started discussions about a potential phase two, but we are really happy with how the project has progressed.”
Mr Best also outlined other projects the CDB is targeting with The Bahamas, and said: “We have been in discussions with the Government of The Bahamas, particularly the WSC, with the possibility of extending the water projects. Again, these are at the embryonic stages.
“The projects we have in The Bahamas, we are just keen on getting them implemented. There are road safety initiatives that we want to move on in The Bahamas. We think there is an opportunity there for saving lives, especially young lives on the road. This is at the initial stages.”