Thursday, December 14, 2017

No $1m pay for contractor

Shoddy work at savannah, says Mayor

THE People’s National Movement (PNM)-controlled Arima Borough Corporation has refused to pay a million-dollar bill owed to a contractor, which it claims was hired by the previous administration on the eve of its exit from office, because of “shoddy work” at the Arima Savannah, said Mayor George Hadeed.

A spokesman for the contractor in question—Kanhai and Sons General Contracting and Services Ltd—yesterday rebutted these claims and said the company has fulfilled all its contractual obligations.

Former Arima mayor Ghassan Youseph distanced himself and his council from the award of the contract and laid the blame for any shoddy work at Hadeed’s feet.

Princess Royal Park is to the people of Arima as the Queen’s Park Savannah is to the people of Port of Spain, Hadeed said.

“This is the (Queen’s Park) Savannah of Arima. This is the open area that everyone is allowed to use. It is a multi-purpose area where people play football, cricket; and children fly kites.”

Because of the significance of the space to the people of Arima, Hadeed said, a contract was awarded to fix the area.

“A contract was given for the contractors to remove the existing surface and to bring in top soil and replant the entire area. The contract started sometime in October-November, and we have had numerous problems in terms of delays and delays with the contractor,” he said.

Last October, Kanhai and Sons was selected to restore the surface of Princess Royal Park, Hadeed said. The contract was valued at $1.2 million.

It was awarded during the tenure of the Youseph-led People’s Partnership Arima Borough Corporation.

Following the local government elections last year, Hadeed replaced Youseph as Arima mayor.

While Hadeed criticised the “sub-standard” work done by Kanhai and Sons, a spokesman for the company, Adesh Kanhai, said the company has fulfilled all the obligations in the contract.

Hadeed said one of the delays was caused because time was needed to source “proper top soil”.

“It is in a worse condition than it was before. We have not paid the contractor. We are refusing to pay him because of the sub-standard soil that he brought in, the sub-standard job that he did and we would like to... before we pay him for this job, we would like to get this corrected because this is sub-standard work here,” the Mayor said.

“We are being pressured by the burgesses because there is no other area that they can partake in sporting activities like this,” he said.

Representatives from Kanhai and Sons and the Arima Borough Council met a couple weeks ago to discuss the issue.

Nothing has changed since that meeting.

“We have taken a decision that we are not going to pay until we get value for money, until we get what we paid for, and this is definitely not what we are going to pay for,” Hadeed said.

Kanhai said the company did all it was contracted to do. “Our contract was to remove six inches of top soil and replace it with three inches of backfill sand and four inches of top soil, then plant back grass to promote grass growth,” he said.

“We have done all of that. Why is it they are raising issues now after the contract has ended? They are raising issues now, but are not focussing of the contract details,” Kanhai said.

Youseph said any issues with the work at Princess Royal Park is Hadeed’s “fault”.

“We took a policy decision to upgrade the savannah because it is a very used place,” Youseph said.

Youseph said the Central Tenders Board and not his council awarded the contract.

“It is most unfair for him (Hadeed) to blame the previous administration. If there is an issue, it is his fault. He did not live up to his job as mayor and is guilty of dereliction of duty.”

Youseph said Hadeed should have been following the progress of the work, and not wait until the end of the day to raise a dispute.