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Project abandonment

Published: 
Sunday, January 8, 2017
Over $15b in works to be completed
Point Fortin Highway

Construction and infrastructural projects totalling in excess of $15 billion have been left incomplete while some buildings have been unused and are waiting to be commissioned by the State, according to Sunday Guardian calculations.

One of the oldest projects, the Brian Lara Stadium, remains unfinished even though it was started more than 13 years ago.

Other outstanding projects include the Red House, Point Fortin Highway Extension, construction of hospitals in Point Fortin and Arima and the Caroni Fuel Facility. Construction on some of these projects have stalled.

Head of the Construction Association Mikey Joseph, in interview with the Sunday Guardian, said the reason for the delays and abandonment of projects were often political. He believes this is wrong since taxpayers are the ones paying for this.

During a press conference on Wednesday, following his government’s two-day retreat at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann’s, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley listed some of over a dozen projects expected to be rebooted in the near future.

Rowley stayed away from giving specific dates for the completion of projects, but said procurement legislation will be proclaimed by March 2017.

He said the construction of the Point Fortin highway will resume “shortly” and government-to-government arrangements for the hospitals in Arima and Point Fortin would be reviewed.

While Government continues to announce plans, actual delivery of several projects seems to be continuosly postponed.

The Brian Lara Stadium in Touruba is unfinished after more than 13 years, and its delivery date was extended from August 2016 to February 2017.

“In the case of the Brian Lara Stadium, it was left unattended mainly because of change in political administration in 2010,” Joseph told the Sunday Guardian.

“Prior to that, the contractor chosen did not have a track record in providing projects on time. It would have been a combination of those issues.”

Joseph said the situation where public sector projects often faced issues with delivery could not be dealt with in a simplistic position.

“In terms of political administrations not dealing with projects they meet when they come into office, it is something everyone needs to frown upon. The fact is that it is taxpayers’ money.”

He said in many cases, an incoming administration would not want to finish a project because they believe it is not a credit to them.

“Right now the reason we don’t have money is because we would have spent excessively on a number of things including projects which were not completed. It is wrong because the taxpayers are paying for it,” Joseph said.

He said delays to projects were always a huge financial burden to the State as the cost of restarting a project was very high.

“A contractor does not increase the cost of a job. A job increases because the scope increases or a term or item on contract is changed. These increases must be agreed by designers and professionals hired by government to do the administration of the contract.”

He said these situations happened in both the public and private sector but delays and cost overruns were more prevalent in the public sector for specific reasons.

“A private man isn’t going to throw away his money. They do have cost increasse and it is related to scope increases but because those are his profits they are not going to go along with certain things.”

In an interview on Thursday, former energy minister Conrad Enill said, “Sometimes when projects are conceptualised, they are very good at the time and over time...sometimes we look at how the project is implemented and then look at it simply in dollar terms and say well, that was a bad idea...it was badly managed without recognising that you don’t know in the future about all the things that will occur and when in fact they do occur, you have to deal with them.”

He said if the price of steel went up, then you can’t say you’re abandoning the project.

“The project maybe 25 per cent complete and therefore you’ve already invested in it so you just have to manage it as best as you can. So I think that projects that are in fact good for the country, if they are not completed in a very short time frame or as quickly as possible, through the date they were conceptualised , you are going to get cost overuns because as you develop the project and see other opportunities, you’ll say well, why don’t I add this to it? Why don’t we stop here or why don’t I do this as well and those things should not have been conceptualised when you were developing the project so by definition the cost will be a lot more. And actually, what we do is that we don’t factor those things into the conversation. we simply talk about how it was $10 and now it’s $20.

n In the following weeks the Sunday Guardian will take a look at these structures, their intended purposes, costs and the reasons behind these delays.

GOVERNMENT PROJECTS STILL TO BE DELIVERED

n COUVA MEDICAL FACILITY

n THE BEETHAM WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANT

n UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES SOUTH CAMPUS (PENAL/DEBE)

n MOTOR VEHICLE AUTHORITY

n POINT FORTIN HOSPITAL

n PENAL FIRE STATION

n SHIVA BOYS’ & PARVATI GIRLS’ HINDU COLLEGES (PENAL)

n CARONI FUEL FACILITY

n BRIAN LARA STADIUM

n RED HOUSE

n SOLOMON HOCHOY HIGHWAY EXTENSION

n PRESIDENTS COTTAGE