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Sharma orders approval for $m contracts
Millions of dollars’ worth of contracts awarded to several companies under the stewardship of former deputy chairman of the Airports Authority (AATT), Kurt Ajodha, will soon be ratified. The T&T Guardian understands the directive to approve the contracts, as well as to start the tendering process for other services, was given by Transport Minister Chandresh Sharma yesterday morning during a meeting with AATT board members.
Sources say two of the contracts yet to be ratified were for consultancy services for the southwest perimeter road at Piarco Airport and for repairing and restoring granite tiles in the duty-free area at the airport. The consultancy contract was estimated at over $1 million and was awarded to a company, via the sole selective process, at a board meeting and approved on May 17. The tile-restoration contract is worth $1,212,205 and was approved at a June 6 board meeting, also using the sole selective tendering process.
The T&T Guardian understands before the tenders were published, Ajodha asked for a quantity surveyor to be retained. This was a cause for concern among board members. When the tendering process ended, sources said, there were several companies whose bids were lower than the surveyor’s estimates in all categories. Sources say the board will meet next week to ratify and award contracts.
On Monday, Sharma told the AATT board to temporarily appoint Carlisle Marks and attorney Carol Cuffy-Dowlat to the posts of chairman and deputy chairman. The appointments, however, were deemed illegal by the AATT's legal department. The members were warned the two new members’ appointments had not been made in accordance with the Airports Authority Act and therefore any business they carried out as part of the board would be deemed illegal.
The meeting had been called to discuss several outstanding matters, including tenders. The current board members include Marks, Duffy-Dowlath, Judith Baliram Ramoutar, Rishi Mahadeo, Premchan Sahadeo, Ruthven Goddard, Susan Charles-Sylvester and Maria Gonsalves, who is overseas.
Two weeks ago, Ajodha tendered his resignation. Ajodha, whose academic qualifications were queried by Diego Martin North/East MP Colm Imbert during debate in Parliament, received a stipend of $7,000 a month for being on the board. During his contribution, Imbert had disclosed that Ajodha did not possess the qualifications stated on his CV. AATT sources said when he was seeking the post, Ajodha had submitted his CV to the board’s committee and was recommended by Sharma.
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