One of the first issues that newly appointed Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz will have to deal with is whether he should cancel two contracts awarded under former deputy chairman of the Airports Authority of T&T (AATT) Kurt Ajodha and have them re-tendered.
Sources say the two contracts, yet to be ratified, were for consultancy services for the southwest perimeter road at Piarco Airport and for repairing and restoring granite tiles in the duty-free area of the airport.
The consultancy contract was estimated at over $1 million and was awarded to a company, via the sole selective process, at a board meeting and approved on May 17.
The tile restoration contract is worth $1,212,205 and was approved at a June 6 board meeting, also using the sole selective tendering process.
The Sunday Express understands that following concerns raised over the sole select tendering process being used to award the contracts, the matter was referred to then-Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma for a decision.
However, during a Cabinet reshuffle last Thursday, Cadiz replaced Sharma before a resolution could be made.
Sources say under the AATT Act, the sole selection process can be invoked in matters of an urgent nature.
But, it was learnt that the board can only make such a decision when the emergency is worth less than $1 million.
Ajodha in June submitted his resignation following a disclosure by Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert during debate in Parliament that his academic qualifications were incorrect.
Imbert had disclosed that Ajodha did not possess the qualifications stated on his CV.
AATT sources said when he was seeking the post, Ajodha had submitted his CV to the Boards Committee and was recommended by Sharma.
Newly appointed chairman of the AATT board Trevor Benjamin when contacted by Sunday Express said he was yet to meet with the board members and was unaware of the issue with the contracts.
Other members of the board include deputy chairman Carol Cuffy-Dowlat, Judith Baliram Ramoutar, Rishi Mahadeo, Premchan Sahadeo, Ruthven Goddard, Carlisle Mark, Susan Charles-Sylvester and Maria Gonsalves.
Last week in handing the instruments of appointment to Benjamin, Sharma told the board they needed to be accountable and transparent at all times
Also speaking at the ceremony was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport Verna Johnson who applauded the functioning board saying several projects were unable to commence due to the unavailability of a chairman and deputy chairman at the AATT.
Cadiz could not be reached by telephone for comment.
When contacted last week, Adjoha said he was unaware that the contracts “have been given out”.
“I have no further info on the matters you are discussing,” he said.
Ajodha said during his tenure on the board, everything was done above board.
He explained the management at AATT would go through a process or procedure “and bring a recommendation to the board to make a decision.
No board makes a decision and no board makes a decision individually. To say a board said do something sole selectively…that is irresponsible.”
The former deputy AATT chairman said the board took decisions based on recommendations made by management and “no board member interferes with any process”.
Asked about the urgency which warranted the sole selective process being used, Ajodha said: “What management did was present us with a paper, the board looked at this and made a decision.
I am aware it did come up as a sole select and there are ways in which management recommends there be sole select.
Management did what they had to do and I am sure they would have done their job.
At the end of the day transparency is the key to everything.”