|Miller won’t support further road project funding|
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Jun 29, 2012
Bahamas Electricity Corporation (BEC) Chairman Leslie Miller said yesterday he would not support any further funding to the Argentinean firm carrying out the New Providence Road Improvement Project.
The government is seeking to borrow an additional $65 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to finish the controversial works.
But Miller, who is also the MP for Tall Pines, said he is of the view that Jose Cartellone Construcciones Civiles (JCCC) should finish the work based on the original contract amount.
“Cartellone has had too much movement,” he said on the Guardian Radio show “Darold Miller Live”. “They have too much give and too much latitude to allow them to do what they have done.
“They had a similar problem in Jamaica. But these guys are sharp as a tack. They are going to find a way to close all loopholes to enable them to get every penny that they can charge in The Bahamas.”
He added: “It is my intention as a member of Parliament to oppose any additional funding to Cartellone over and above the contract that was signed. I would oppose that vigorously in Parliament.”
Miller told The Nassau Guardian after the show that he believes that JCCC could have carried out the project much more effectively.
“They need to complete the project based on what they have so far,” he said.
Miller also said that if any problems arise with BEC cables, the medians constructed as part of the project would have to be dug up.
In 2008, the Ingraham administration signed a $119.9 million contract with the Argentinean firm to carry out the work.
However, the price tag attached to the project has increased substantially over the past three and a half years.
It has since been revealed that the total cost of the Inter-American Development Bank funded portion of this project is now estimated at $206 million.
The cost overruns associated with the project are estimated to be about $93 million.
Major challenges included the discovery of a number of sink holes and mapped, unmapped and unaccounted for underground utilities, which required modified drawings.
The escalation of fuel costs was also a major challenge for the contractors. Working in densely populated areas also proved to be problematic, according to Grant.
But Miller insists that JCCC should bear any additional costs.
The project is expected to be completed some time next year.
Two weeks ago, former Works Minister Neko Grant defended the project in the House of Assembly.
Grant said that despite cost overruns the end result of the project will justify the investment.
He noted that the government has allocated more than $100 million in subsidies to the Water and Sewerage Corporation since the 2009/2010 fiscal year.
“It is common knowledge that in excess of 50 percent of the water paid for by the Water and Sewerage Corporation is unaccounted for, wasted through leaky pipes in the ground, and we are now [being questioned] as to why we undertook the New Providence Improvement Infrastructure Program.
“The savings that will be realized as a result of Water and Sewerage works done justify our investment and the cost overrun that is in question by the side opposite,” Grant said.