Watchdog group Disclosure Today says Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan did the right thing in declaring his conflict of interest in respect of the $400 million contract awarded to Kall Co for the construction of Package 1 of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway Extension to Manzanilla.
Questions have been asked about the award of the contract following the disclosure and confirmation by Sinanan that one of his relatives is married to one of the owners of Kall Co.
Chief Executive Officer of Disclosure Today Rishi Maharaj said “Given the fact that he was open and frank with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues, then on the face of it that would be the proper and right thing for the minister to do. I think he did the right thing and he did the appropriate thing in flagging the issue early o’clock, alerting the Prime Minister and his Cabinet colleagues.”
But Maharaj said the questions over the contract reinforce the need for government to quickly bring the proper procurement legislation and have the proper procurement regulator put on board as quickly as possible. The highway extension will be built in three phases and the first phase to construct 34 km of roadway is expected to be completed in 10 months.
At Tuesday’s sod turning ceremony in Cumuto both NIDCO chairman Herbert George and Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley said the process of tendering and awarding the contract had been a robust and rigorous one. He stressed that the government will not be “handing” any job to any contractor and all contractors were free to bid as long as there was nothing legally preventing them from doing so.
Rowley said Kall Co submitted the lowest bid for the project and he believed that the company had the equipment and experience that was needed to complete the job on time and within the agreed price. Kall Co had been criticised by the People’s National Movement while in the Opposition as one of the contractors favoured by the former People’s Partnership administration in getting jobs.
Kall Co was terminated from the $120 million Maracas Beach Facility Improvement project, in June last year, and an audit was ordered into the scope of works done.
Minister in the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs Stuart Young told a post Cabinet media briefing then that the ‘contract was terminated on the basis of legal advice obtained.’