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Cadiz on Maracas Bay makeover: Coconut trees in $233m spent by PNM
The $233 million cost of the Maracas Bay makeover undertaken by the past PNM administration involved among other things “speciality construction” work that included planting additional coconut trees, according to Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz. Cadiz spoke about the cost of the work and the trees in his budget-debate contribution in Parliament yesterday.
After listing several aspects of the project, Cadiz added ominously, “The file on this project will be transferred to another office, and let them deal with all of this.” He said the Tourism Development Company (TDC) went with the “highest bidder for the lowest points” and that the bidder’s work included “speciality contracting.”
Cadiz said the speciality construction included demolishing structures, diverting the Maracas Road, improving drainage, installing a high-capacity wastewater sewer plant, upgrading the car park and work to keep the sand back from the area.
He also sought to explain “speciality construction.”
“Construction of a boardwalk, construction of a main pavilion, construction of an events area for shows, volleyball area, new toilet and shower facilities, an administration building and—I like this one—additional coconut trees and basic grassing. Very special,” he said.
“You have $233 million of taxpayers’ money being spent. I brought this up as I didn’t like the term being used by those on the other (PNM) side about ‘deception and trust’ then you could tell me you put down a speciality contract to put down coconut trees in Maracas Bay? What is more deceptive than that? You have breached citizens’ trust.”
He said the ministry had recruited consultants and would fix Maracas Bay at a fraction of that cost. Cadiz said the project-management fee for the Maracas job was $14.7 million. He also said one of the items involved in the plan could not be found to date. It was listed as a $15 million item for “furniture, fixtures and equipment.”
“I can’t find that anywhere. I don’t know where that $15 million come out from, but the item went to the last Cabinet and they approved it,” he added. Cadiz also spoke about the tendering procedure for the project, saying the evaluation team included a director— also a a Udecott board member—who said the Tourism Development Company’s board should go with the third lowest tender. He said that was a foreign company, also working for Udecott.
Cadiz said, however, the second bidder had the pass mark. He queried the cost the PNM incurred to advertise internationally for the project. He said he had visited the Tobago House of Assembly on the Cove Industrial Park issue and plans are in the works for more brand new hotels for Tobago.
Cadiz said Government was also focused on conscious tourism, “but conscious tourism is not Jah Rastafari,” he added, explaining what it was.
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