– defends project against Opposition probing
As the D’Urban Park Development Project continues to face public scrutiny and criticisms, Government has sought to defend the Project, revealing details including the names of contractors.
This follows the submission of a list of oral questions on the Project by Opposition Member of Parliament Juan Edghill during Wednesday’s sitting of the National Assembly.
Despite the fact that Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland disallowed the questions, Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson released a detailed statement on the Project.
According the Minister, a total of 17 firms were shortlisted from the Ministry’s prepared list of shortlisted contractors to bid for the construction of timber framed bleachers with a steel framed roof.
Of that number, nine contractors were selected and are on board with his Ministry working towards a May 12, 2016 deadline.
“As per procurement regulations, interested bidders were invited and were required to respond in writing, indicating their intention to provide a bid. Further, they were required to present sealed bids, which were delivered to the Office of the Coordinator of the Works Services Group, as well as visit the site,” Patterson noted.
He added that the selection criteria were based on a number of items, including attestation of site visit; access to line of credit, no less than $4 million, and commitment to provide requisite staff for two shifts per working day.
The Minister went on to say that of the 17 invited firms, four were selected. These include R Bassoo and Sons; House Designs and Engineering Associates; S Jagmohan Hardware Supplies and Constructing Services; and C and L Construction Inc. They joined TBL Engineering; Chung Global; Mc Branz (Car Care); Barnes and McCoy, who were already involved in the Project prior to the Ministry assuming responsibility.
The Minister added too that the materials for some of the works were procured by the Ministry via direct purchase from its approved suppliers in accordance with the Procurement Act of 2003.
Moreover, Patterson sought to address concerns about D’Urban Park, pointing out that the short-, medium- and long-term benefits to be derived from expending resources on the Park were considered and Government has determined that the cost was justifiable.
While persons have questioned the necessity of D’Urban Park to hosts jubilee events when there is the National Stadium available, the Public Infrastructure Minister noted that the hosting of President David Granger’s inauguration in May last year at that venue highlighted the shortcomings of the Stadium.
“During the inauguration, the Stadium was filled to its capacity of 16,000 persons. This event also caused major traffic disturbances and safety concerns, as noted by the Police and Fire Departments, who cautioned against a similar activity at this venue. It is anticipated that our Jubilee celebrations will be witnessed by more than double the number of persons who attended the inauguration last year, thus leading to greater demand of space,” he explained.
According to Patterson, D’Urban Park has a capacity to accommodate some 30,000, making it the largest venue in the country.
Moreover, he outlined that compared to the previous state of the D’Urban Park area, the aesthetic and sanitary transformation makes for a healthier and more wholesome community.
He added that the facility would also be used for a variety of public events beyond the Independence celebrations, including religious ceremonies, food fairs, education exhibitions, musical concerts, medical outreaches, physical training, gymnastic displays and other public rallies.
Contrary to concerns raised, the Minister noted that consultations were held with residents of the surrounding community to make D’Urban Park a reality.
In fact, every Government going back to the late 1970s made varying proposals to upgrade the area and it was based on those proposals that the Administration conceptualised the current design of the Project.
Minister Patterson admitted that the Project has had its hiccups, including substandard work on the bleachers, but noted these defects are presently being corrected by contractors following reviews by the Ministry’s engineers.
With regard to works being done, Patterson said his Ministry was working on the completion of Phase One, which is for the Jubilee celebrations.
He remarked that while costs for the phases have not yet been determined, the sum of $150 million has been allocated for the completion of the first phase.
Responding to concerns about transparency and accountability regarding donations towards the Project, Minister Patterson said all donations before the Ministry assumed responsibility were made to a registered company outside of his Ministry and would, therefore, be audited differently.
However, he stopped short of naming the company and the entity under which it falls.
The Minister further underscored that the Ministry’s responsibility over D’Urban Park would not have financial impact on other scheduled projects, given the sum set aside for the completion of this phase.