FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hon. Michael Pintard
Leader, Free National Movement
NEW PROVIDENCE, BAHAMAS – The Opposition is dismayed by the astounding collection of mistruths and deflections the Prime Minister and his Minister of Works have sought to drop on the Bahamian people once again in the aftermath of the roof collapse at the R. M. Bailey Construction site.
First, the Prime Minister and Minister Sears with a straight face told the Bahamian people that the roof collapse that everyone saw was not in fact a collapsed roof. The PLP is now at the point where they will say anything to cover their obvious ineptitude. Fortunately, the Bahamian people know very well what they saw.
Then, the Prime Minister suggested that the contractor had an oral contract for a project that would be valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars at minimum. This is rubbish, plain and simple.
The Procurement Acts of 2021 and 2023 require that a project of this size be approved by the agency’s Tenders Committee or the Public Procurement Board, depending on the contract value (See Sections 16- 18 of the PPA 2023). The Committee and Board would not give consideration to an “oral” contract proposal, nor would they approve a waiver of the requirement for proper insurance coverage. By law, no procurement contract can be awarded unless the process prescribed by law is followed – anything else is an illegal contract.
The issue of so-called “self-insurance” held by the contractor is almost certainly a grand fiction concocted on the spot by the Prime Minister. He knows well from the BAMSI debacle that the standing government policy is that all public projects of this type require express insurance coverage. The contractor has no option to “take on the risk”. Unless the Prime Minister can provide evidence that the contractor has established a separate legal entity appropriately funded to provide insurance for the contractor’s business interests, then no self-insurance exists.
How many other illegal contracts are currently in place with nothing more than a handshake and a wink? We demand that the Prime Minister provide evidence that the Tenders Committee did its review and approval. We further demand that the government provide a full accounting of all projects for which there are only “oral contracts” in place and for which there is no appropriate insurance coverage.
It is my understanding that a senior member of the engineering team did not support the construction of the truss with the size of the lumber used, neither did the technical team support the construction of the pavilion in that particular area of the campus for reasons that included the safety and security of the student population. If this is the case, who overrode the prudent advice of the public officers at the Ministry?
We cannot have a renegade government that believes that it is above the law and can do as it pleases. If there are more examples of this wanton recklessness and illegality, then the responsible Ministers must resign.
Enough is enough.
August 22, 2023