THE MANAGING director of a Trinidad-based roofing and construction company that was awarded a multi-million-dollar road contract in Tobago has chosen to remain mum on how his company was invited to tender for the project.
Newsday contacted John Chadee of Innovative Roofing and Construction Solutions Ltd about his company's $54,781,820 contract for the construction of the Milford Court/Pigeon Point Connector Road, and was told to contact the Tobago House of Assembly (THA).
Pressed about the award of the contract, Chadee repeated that he was not answering any questions on it, saying he was asked to tender and had been successful.
Asked about his company’s history of roadworks, given that its name implied it was involved in roofing and construction, Chadee said: “Sir, you heard what I just told you? English language hard for you Negro reporters to understand?”
The company will finance the entire project, according to documents seen by Newsday, and will be paid within nine months of completion of each of the two phases.
The phases will be road and drainage work, which totalled $19,781,820, and construction of two roads, totalling $35 million
THA insiders said the $19 million road and drainage project would have cost $10,818,888.80 if normal rates were applied.
Most of the remaining $35 million of the contract will be spent on new construction to connect Pigeon Point through the mangrove to James Street, Mt St Pleasant Boulevard. The contract documents said there is already a dirt road there, and upgrading it will cost $25 million.
The other $10 million is for the connecting road from Poui Avenue, Milford Court to the new Mt Pleasant Boulevard.
The company, based at Cedar Hill Estate Road, Princes Town, was incorporated in 2020, according to the Ministry of Legal Affairs' business registry. On its Facebook page there are no photos or videos of roadworks, only construction of homes and roofing jobs.
The company is not registered with the THA's list of registered companies from Trinidad.
In September, Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) political leader Watson Duke and THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine fell out over the supposed favouring of Trinidad contractors over their Tobago counterparts. In addition, THA Minority Leader Kelvon Morris raised concerns about a contract awarded to Charlieville-based California Stucco Company Ltd to build a road from Mt Marie to Dutch Fort Crossing Canal.
Newsday was also given a copy of the rates used by the THA for roadworks, which were significantly lower than what Chadee’s company was awarded.
According to Chadee’s contract, the THA agreed to pay $2,700 per tonne for the supply and installation of asphalt mix and bitumen.
THA sources and Tobago contractors have told Newsday that the going rate is $1,400 per tonne. Trinidad-based contractors contacted by Newsday said the price can vary between $900 and $1,200 for projects in Trinidad.
Other jobs such as milling and levelling, for which Chadee is to be paid $400 per square metre, usually cost the THA roughly $200. To compact hardcore for basecourse, which is underground pre-work of piling and compacting aggregate before the road is paved, usually costs the THA $300 per cubic metre, but that figure was doubled for Chadee’s company.
Newsday called Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James on Wednesday. He said there was nothing untoward about the THA having selective tendering, as that was all part of the legal tendering process.
James said all questions about the contract and others were to be answered on Thursday at THA’s plenary sitting. He said he was assured that Chadee’s company has "infrastructure exposure," but could not say if it had any history of doing roadworks.
“Given the budgetary constraints that we have from Trinidad," he said, "as an executive we have decided that we must find ways of bringing private money into the public space, and that is what we are about, and that is what we have done.”
On Thursday, at the THA’s tenth plenary sitting, questioned by Morris, James said three contractors were awarded various roadworks on the island. California Stucco Company Ltd was given a contract valued at $19,481,061.06 for its project. For roadworks from Argyle to Roxborough/ Bloody Bay Road, Construction Services and Supplies Ltd was awarded a contract for $25,872,595.88.
Morris was advised to submit his supplemental question for the next sitting after he asked on what basis Chadee’s company was selected, given the eco-sensitivity of the area. Presiding Officer Abby Taylor said the question was a new one and did not allow it.