The Government has issued a statement on the National Disaster Management (NDM) Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Project which is financed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
One of the important activities under this programme is the Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Upgrade – River Training of Works at Yarabaqua. The pre-bid engineering estimate for these works was EC $1,512,077.
The Ministry of Transport and Works is the implementing agency tasked with the execution of the NDM program in general including the Yarabaqua River Training works.
The Ministry of Transport and Works invited contracts to submit bids for the river training works to be carried out at the Yarabaqua River. Seven (7) bids were received on April 23, 2018,
The submission from the Chief Engineer to the Tenders Board was accompanied by a letter of “No Objection” from the CDB, dated August 13, 2018, indicating that the “CDB has no objection to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines awarding a contract to Reliable Construction Services Ltd. of St. Vincent and the Grenadines for the sum of XCD $1,421,567 (VAT inclusive)”.
The Tenders Board granted approach on 29th August, 2018 for the Ministry to negotiate with Reliable Construction Services Ltd. The negotiation for the works was conducted on September 05, 2018 with the NDM project staff and the principals of RCSL. On completion of the negotiations, the Ministry sought the approval of the Tenders Board on September 10 to award the contract to RCSL. The Tenders Board granted the approval for the award of the contract to RCSL on September 26, 2018 in the sum of $1,421,567 (VAT inclusive).
The decision by the Tenders Board to award the contract relied upon the Bid Evaluation Report prepared by IBI Group (the Consultant) and the letter of “no objection” issued by the CDB.
The CDB, in a letter dated April 09, 2019, informed the Director General, Finance and Planning that a mis-procurement has been declared in respect of the Yarabaqua River Defence contract between the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and RCSL.
The CDB further stated, that as a result of the mis-procurement, the financing for the contract has been cancelled and the sum of EC$142,156.70 which was already drawn down will have to be repaid inclusive of interest. The CDB has subsequently waived the payment of the interest on the amount drawn down. The CDB has advised that funding for all other NDM project activities remains intact.
The Government says the river defence and river training works of the Yarabaqua River still need to be done urgently. Time is of the essence in this hurricane season.
The Government has been advised by its relevant officials that RCSL has the capacity, personnel, and equipment to finish the job which it has started. The Ministry of Transport and Works is satisfied that under its ongoing supervision and that of the relevant professional staff of the GOSVG, the usual supervision of infrastructural works can be properly effected with RCSL as the Contractor.
Accordingly, the Cabinet under its legal authority has decided to permit RCSL to resume its work at the Yarabaqua River. The financing will be effected through the Consolidated Fund of GOSVG, not using CDB monies. The Ministry of Transport and Works has been directed by Cabinet to submit a Special Warrant to obtain financing for the work and to deliver a draft contract for the outstanding works to the Attorney General for urgent review.
Given that time is of the essence in this matter, it is not reasonable in the circumstances for the Government to take another year or so to go through the competitive tendering process again. In its decision-making, the GOSVG is very mindful of its obligations (including potentially legal ones) to the home-owners on the bank of the river on which works have started and stopped.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet took the decision to terminate the pre-existing contract to RCSL. Further, the Cabinet has requested the Ministry of Transport and Works and the Tenders Board to review the evaluation of the bids and the advice rendered by the consultants, the IBI Group. Such a review and legal advice of the Attorney General will address the matter of the IBI Group’s professional advice on the bids in the first place and its potential liability to the GOSVG for any loss or damage incurred on suffered.