Last update: 09-Dec-2013 11:48 pm
Monday, December 09, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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$2.4B to complete Government Campus Plaza
More than two billion dollars has been allocated to complete the five-building Government Campus Plaza. Detailed in both the 2013 and 2014 State Enterprises Investment Programme (SEIP) folders, construction and fit-out of the almost decade-old buildings carry the hefty price tag of $2.4 billion.
According to the 2013 SEIP between October 2011 and March 2012, $1.3 billion was spent on the buildings, even though the project managers, the Urban Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago, stalled construction for two years between 2010 and 2012. In the months between April 2012 and September 2013, a further $779.5 million was allocated under “projected expenditure.”
In the 2014 SEIP, the total cost of the project dipped to $2,419.96 million, but actual and projected expenditure totalled $1,069.61 million, which leaves $1,350.35 million unaccounted for in the 2014 allocation documents.
While both the public and politicians have been focusing on these five buildings, other construction at the Ministry of Education Tower has quietly racked up over $100 million in costs overruns and the Chancery Lane Complex, now the extension to the San Fernando General Hospital cost almost $28 million more than initially budgeted. Both figures can be found in the 2014 SEIP.
This staggering $2.4 billion figure for Government Campus Plaza was marked down from $2.5 billion after Udecott stepped in with valuators and was able to save more than $100 million in duplicated invoices from contactors and consultants.
Questions posed by the Sunday Guardian to both Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal and Udecott’s head, Jearlean John were referred to the company’s Media, Events and Community Outreach manager Roxanne Stapleton-Whyms who said that the initial figure of $2.5 billion was reduced after “an intense reconciliation exercise.”
Whyms said Udecott partnered with US-based construction firm Hill International and an independent local company Claims Consultant EQS between 2010 and 2012 and found “instances of duplicated claims and inflated claims” submitted by contractors and consultants. “Also, during aggressive negotiations between Udecott and contractors/consultants, some claims were further revised downwards,” Whyms said in response to e-mailed questions.
But even with that intervention, in the 2014 State Enterprises Investment Programme, the Ministry of Finance earmarked a further $495.2 million for works to continue on the project. These new figures are just shy of the $612.1 million allocated for the same buildings in the 2013 State Enterprises Investment Programme.
In the State Enterprises Investment Programme (SEIP) for 2013, the Ministry of Finance details that the 23-storey Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) building was pegged to cost an estimated $1,120.1 million and stated that by the end of March, 2012, $574.3 million was expended. “An additional sum of $17.0 million is allocated for the balance of fiscal 2012 and $105.3 million is projected for 2013,” the SEIP states.
This year’s allocations:
By 2014, the SEIP noted that the expenditure for the period October 2012 to March 2013 was $24 million with a projected expenditure for the period April to September 2013 standing at $45.5 million, and for fiscal 2014 standing at $181.8 million. While Stapleton-Whyms said the base building was 100 per cent completed, the 2014 SEIP noted that the expenditure for the period October 2012 to March 2013 was $0.9 million and noted that the projected expenditure for fiscal 2014 is $259.2 million.
Stapleton-Whyms explained that the deadline for construction was changed to allow for the two-year long forensic investigations. “Additionally, Udecott is awaiting disbursement of funds for the commencement of fit-out works. These factors are the reasons completion of the GCP (Government Campus Project) has been moved to 2015,” she said.
The eight-storey carpark, according to the 2013 State Enterprises Investment Programme, “completed in December 4, 2006, at a cost of $310.8 million” yet still received an “outstanding” $160.4 million payment by March 2012, and needed “additional infrastructural works” to bring it to a “state of readiness.”
By 2014, the SEIP listed the projected expenditure on the carpark for the period April to September 2013 at $8.8 million and once again stated that “however, additional infrastructural works are required to bring the commercial spaces to a state of readiness for leasing.” Stapleton-Whyms said that the “$8,753,614 projected expenditure for fiscal 2013 for the Parkade relates to Fit-Out of the Retail Shops and Offices which are earmarked for completion this year (2013).”
Completion date on all five buildings have now been set for 2015.
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