Govt terminates $413M Leguan Stelling contract after contractor fails to meet obligations
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill on Friday ordered that the $413 million contract to construct the deplorable Leguan Stelling be terminated since the contractor, S Maraj Contracting Services, failed to meet his obligation.
This comes one day after the Minister and his team met with residents who echoed their concerns about the slow pace at which the project is being done. On this note, Minister Edghill stated that the contractor would have applied for an extension to complete the project but he posited that it is unacceptable.
However, in a subsequent release issued by the Minister, he stated that on Friday at about 11:00h, he met with the contractor along with a team from the Transport and Harbours Department and was guided by the special report on the rehabilitation of Leguan Ferry Stelling conducted by the Audit Office.
Based on the report, it was determined that the contractor, S Maraj Contracting Services, is incapable, unable, and does not possess the wherewithal to successfully execute the project.
The contract was signed on September 20, 2018, under the leadership of David Patterson, the Minister of Public Infrastructure.
The contractor would have received $199,435,000 in payments. This is outside of the normal procurement practices and a breach of the Fiscal Management Accountability Act. Presently, actual works and materials on site are estimated at about $100 million.
“A contract that should have been completed in six (6) months, signed on September 20, 2018, received an advance payment on September 26, 2018, but the contractor only received his order to commence works on December 6, 2018. So the contractor was in possession of tens of millions of taxpayers’ dollars for almost three months before he was required to begin work,” Edghill noted.
This contract, he added, was expected to be completed by June 7, 2019. “It is now 20 months beyond the completion date. By April 19, 2019, the advance payment bond, as well as the performance bonds, had expired.”
“At the time of assuming office in August 2020, the PPP/C inherited one of the most troubled, wasteful, corrupt, and poorly managed contracts of the David Granger Administration which fell under the purview of David Patterson and Annette Ferguson,” Edghill noted in the release.
In the Auditor General’s report, it was stated that the contractor having received the contract for the building of a stelling used the argument of a faulty bill of quantities and earned himself by October 30, 2019, an additional $20,650,000 for the supply and delivery of piles for the same Leguan Stelling.
“It is inconceivable that a contract for the building of a stelling will not include the piles, one of the most important components for the construction of the stelling.”
The Auditor General has informed that at the time of the audit, the contractor was paid for measured works but there was no measured works break down attached to the payment certificates.
“Secondly, variations and change of scope of works could not have been measured and quantified since no documents were available and submitted. It was clear that there was poor contract administration and oversight. The Auditor General has indicated that payments made in some instances were in breach of the Fiscal and Management Accountability Act,” the Minister stated.
This was the fourth engagement the Minister had with the contractor and Transport and Harbours Department on the project but to avail.
“I have therefore ordered that in keeping with the contractual terms that this contract be immediately terminated and any adverse consequences resulting from this must be placed squarely at the feet of the David Granger APNU/AFC Administration with David Patterson and Annette Ferguson as the gazetted Ministers responsible,” Edghill stated.
As such, the Attorney General will be engaged to ensure that the money disbursed to the contractor is recovered.