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Lloyd: PLP govt gave select group school contracts

  • Contractors work vigorously to repair the Stephen Dillet Primary School on Wulff Road yesterday. The school is expected to have a full plumbing, pipe and drainage system overhaul, in addition to repairs to the classrooms. Ministry of Education officials are optimistic that the school will be ready to receive the hundreds of students returning after the summer break. PHOTOS: AHVIA J. CAMPBELL

  • Jeffrey Lloyd.

Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Aug 11, 2017

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Repairs have not begun on a third of public schools that are in need of such work, according to Education Minister Jeff Lloyd.

However, the minister assured that all repairs will be completed on time for the start of the new school year.

He said a review of the approximately 400 school repair contracts awarded by the Christie administration showed that the contracts went to a select group.

Several of those contracts were pulled back and reissued to ensure fairness, according to Lloyd.

He indicated that this resulted in some delays of repairs on several schools in the Family Islands.

“Upon our [coming] to office in May, obviously much of the scope of works would have been done by the Ministry of Works and a number of contracts would have been awarded, or works would have been approved by Cabinet for the awarding of contracts,” Lloyd said.

“Our review — it is necessary for us to provide a review of our respective ministries, so we can give a proper account to the Bahamian people — revealed that there may have been less than equitable distribution of those contracts.”

When asked whether contracts only went to PLPs, Lloyd said, “There [was a] certain segment of our population who enjoyed the benefit of favors from the government, considerations by the previous government, to unfortunately the exclusion of another segment or our Bahamian contractual population, which is unfair.”

Lloyd said the government does not intend to operate as its predecessors did and believes “all Bahamians, who are meritorious, who are capable, who are competent, should be given fair opportunity to receive a contract from the government”.

The minister did not say how many contracts were pulled back and reissued.

But he assured that the redistribution exercise was fairly done.

“It should not be an overabundance of PLPs, of FNMs, or an overabundance of DNAs,” Lloyd said.

“We are all Bahamians and under my ministry there is going to be a fair distribution to suitably qualified Bahamian contractors, so that all of us can eat, and no one group of persons enjoys a privilege to the exclusion, and by the way I believe, the oppression of another group.”

There were some concerns expressed over the scope of repairs at Stephen Dillet Primary School.

“My major concern, but it is being satisfactorily allayed at this time, is Stephen Dillet, which underwent significant upgrades, the entire inside had to be gutted; new pipes had to be laid; entire interior has been reformed.

“But the contractor is an experienced and very capable one, who is doing an extraordinary job, working around the clock virtually. That particular project is going to be completed satisfactorily and in time for the opening of school in September.”

The full cost of the school repairs remains unclear.

Last month, the minister said the figure may exceed the $8 million allocated.

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