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Bamsi Buildings Relocated Due To Sinkholes On Site

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WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister.

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

WORKS Minister Desmond Bannister outlined the litany of problems that have plagued construction at Bahamas Agriculture and Marine Science Institute, including the fact that “sinkholes” were found early on the work site resulting in many buildings having to be relocated.

Mr Bannister told the House of Assembly last night that the former government did not undertake a geo-tech study of the area, and as a result these sinkholes were only found after excavation for foundations were carried out.

He also shed light on the financial difficulties the project incurred under the previous government, saying “cash flow” problems arose with contractors in September 2014, shortly after the project started.

He also deplored the fact that the Christie administration did not take legal action against the contractor for the uninsured male dormitory at BAMSI, which was destroyed by fire in January 2015. He said the government has paid out more than $2m to the contractor—Audley Hanna of Paradigm Construction.

Mr Bannister also revealed that Mr Hanna, whose name he did not call in the House, claimed to the government that he owed subcontractors nearly $300,000 more than what these companies said were due to them. In a case of “misfeasance,” he said the former administration offered to pay more than $200,000 to these subcontractors.

“The BAMSI project has been a sore spot for the Bahamian people,” Mr Bannister said last night.

“ . . . I am advised that all contractors for buildings signed contracts and started work together in February 2014. No competitive bidding was done, so we cannot say that the most suitable or qualified contractors were selected, and we know that the Bahamian people did not get value for money with respect to the pricing of contracts.

“The former administration failed to authorise a geo-tech survey, which ought to have been standard for this type of construction. As a result, it was not until after excavation for foundations had commenced that sinkholes were found. At that time, almost all of the major buildings had to be relocated, including the now infamous male dormitory that later burned, the administration building, the cafeteria—moved twice— and the cluster of classrooms.

“The locations planned for the male and female dormitories were moved very slightly and small buildings remained where they were originally sited. One of the two-story villas was also located on a sinkhole, but the foundation details were adjusted to go deeper.”

He said there was initially no electricity on the construction site and work ended at sundown for some time.

He continued: “I am advised that project (had) cash flow difficulties and other complaints began in September of 2014, just months after the project had started.

“I am advised that monies were ‘running out.’ That is, most of the contractors were having difficulties producing what the authority wanted with the money contracted to do the work. It seemed that most contractors had cash flow problems much of which the professionals attribute to their entirely unacceptable method of selection.

“By June 2015, for a variety of reasons, construction had either altogether halted or slowed to an extremely slow pace on all but the cluster of classrooms and the cafeteria buildings, which themselves were not without their challenges.

“I am advised that the administration building, one of the two-story faculty villas and one of the single-story villas had come to a complete stop. The male dormitory had been burned in a fire and the female dormitory’s contractor had suddenly stopped work due to alleged financial difficulties and both contracts had been determined by the ministry.

“I await advice as to why we have not taken legal action against the contractor who built the ill-fated male dormitory, who I understand has been paid $2,535,769.17 on a $2,600,000.00 contract prior to the fire.

“The lecture theatre had run into design difficulties because a review by the client indicated the need for a redesign of some services and possible consequences for the whole structure.

“It was also during the second quarter of 2015 that the ministry reviewed all contracts and applied for additional funding at the expense of the Bahamian people. This free for all was a fiasco that all of the Bahamian people are now being forced to pay for.”

Mr Bannister also said in the aftermath of the male dorm being destroyed by fire, 51 subcontractors submitted claims of $551,967.53 in allegedly unpaid bills.

“Strangely enough, Mr Speaker, the contractor claimed that he owed more money to subcontractors and suppliers than they themselves claim,” Mr Bannister said. “He claimed that he owed them $828,793.03. In several cases, contractors and suppliers submitted claims for what they said was owed to them and the contractor told the ministry that he owed more money than they were claiming.

“Mr Speaker, in an amazing case of misfeasance, the former administration offered to pay $220,040.91 to these people. One company that did not even make a claim to the ministry was offered $28,078.50.”

He said another subcontractor that did not make a claim was offered more than $24,000.

He said ultimately, the former administration “sought to soften the blow” by offering many of these sub-contractors 60 per cent on the claims that they submitted.

He said to top it off, the Bahamian people spent $157,515 to demolish and cart away debris from the burnt male dorm.

“To date no legal action has been taken against the contractor. . . Mr Speaker as I said before, the honourable attorney general will have to decide whether to take legal action against ministers in the outgoing administration who made the outrageous decisions to waste the people’s money. Decisions that were not justified at the time and are not justified now. And if anyone disagrees with me, I have a burnt down male dormitory to sell them.”

He said the chaos of BAMSI’s origin is now behind it as the Minnis administration seeks to get the construction project on track.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 years, 8 months ago

At the end of the day it is a visionary idea of the PLP called BAMSI ,,See what you can do to fix what problems you say exist . After all the FNM Government built the hospital in Exuma next to the fish fry. when the foundation was dug. it should have shown the sink holes.
Mr:Banister just go on with the vision of the PLP because you folks have no vision.

Providing what he said about sink holes is true in the first place. They love a show. lots of noise no substance.

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TalRussell 2 years, 8 months ago

Comrades! What a different BAMSI song does Minister Desmond now sungs - which is a far cry from what he was sunging back on Friday, July 29 2016, when this same Red Shirts said, he Desmond was calling for if elected as the 2017-2022 government.... "To holds a 'Commission of Inquiry' into the 'Carnival of BAMSI scandals' - cause Desmond said, we may find that they were financed at the expense of the development of educational facilities for our children's."
Comrades, not only will there be NO Red Shirts sponsored Commission of Inquiry into BAMSI but the Red Shirts have done committed to committing another $8 million from the Public's Purse into that sinking hole of BAMSI..... And, the Public's Purse is again being used to plan for Kanaval 2018 - and theto fund the booking of Trinidadian headliners. {No need make this up}.

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B_I_D___ 2 years, 8 months ago

...just getting warmed up TAL...give them time...

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DDK 2 years, 8 months ago

Just keep us apprised of the Attorney General's progress please, Minister Bannister.

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ohdrap4 2 years, 8 months ago

there were sink holes at the abaco clinic, that is why it took so long to complete. then the plp sat on it to have a mock opening the week before the election.

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 8 months ago

Is proud loud and FNM the same as Troy Cartwright?? Troy should take proud loud and FNM to the bank and the food store and see what he will get. A march will do no good.

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sealice 2 years, 8 months ago

Hey Andrew Allen ---- can you make this not stink of PLP?

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Alex_Charles 2 years, 8 months ago

I stopped reading after the mention of sink holes. You don't even build a flipping house without checking to see how your foundation is gonna work out. This isn't revolutionary or 'new'.

They just cut corners and made this up as they went. This is perhaps why the former administration wasn't forthcoming with information about the project.

I don't care anymore, either prosecute or STFU. Fix this damn country and pass legislation to ensure this never happens again.

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Sickened 2 years, 8 months ago

"One company that did not even make a claim to the ministry was offered $28,078.50.”

"He said another subcontractor that did not make a claim was offered more than $24,000."

ROFL! So sad! PLP crooks... always and forever.

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Porcupine 2 years, 8 months ago

BAMSI was and is only a way for the MPs to fleece the people with their fraudulent contracts. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Socrates 2 years, 8 months ago

if civil servants did not ensure that required contracts and proper procedure was followed, we will have a hard time in a court of law getting any money back. The government needs to check its own people and see who among them failed in their duties.. a lot of what is being reported now is due to slackness in the civil service. Finally, if instructions were given to not follow procedure, then those civil servants have a duty and obligation to give up the politicians who interfered.

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