Categorized | Featured, National News

$77M For Roadworks


Parliamentarians on Wednesday passed a resolution to borrow an additional $77 million from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for supplementary financing of the New Providence Road Improvement Project (NPRIP).

State Minister for Finance Michael Halkitis said the government had no choice but to borrow the funds, as it is needed to complete the NPRIP, which had estimated $112 million for civil works, but now has cost overruns of $206 million.

Mr. Halkitis stressed that the funds are simply to complete “the poorly managed” project and does not represent any extension works or any new works.

“Unfortunately the loan only seeks to fund the inefficiencies of the past and does not repair damage adversely impacted by the challenges during the execution of this project,” he said.

“In short order the government will be in a position to announce a comprehensive programme of support for businesses whose operations were negatively impacted by the road works.”

Mr. Halkitis said, with justification, the project has struggled to gain the full support from the public, in particular, residents and businesses in areas directly impacted.

He added that the responsibility for this failure is distributed among the government, the supervisors and executors of the civil works component of the initiative.

“While we would agree that the improvement to infrastructure is vital to the economic and social success of any nation, we must be equally mindful that large scale projects that impact livelihood – notwithstanding for short periods – of the masses must be carefully executed,” he added.

“Strategies must include the voice of the public and information on project execution should be transparent.”

Seconding the resolution, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works Philip Davis said the fact that the government now has to borrow this money speaks volumes to the faults of the previous administration.

“The contract for this New Providence Road Improvement Project, which is now costing the Bahamian people in excess of $100 million from the original price, is an expense and a cost that, in my view, could have been avoided and should have been avoided,” he said.

Mr. Davis added that if there is one thing the country should learn from this project is that, “haste makes waste and likewise, delay also makes waste.”

He said more importantly, there has to be a willingness to understand that the government cannot leave consultants and contractors on a job to do what they are hired to do and not evaluate their progress.

But Central Grand Bahama MP and former Works Minister Neko Grant argued that works of this magnitude anywhere in the world are subject to cost overruns of this price tag.

He added that the government is all too familiar with it as it also happened under a previous Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) government.

“I think it is important for the Bahamian people to be reminded that a very similar project undertaken under their watch, with no major challenges as we experienced on this one, had a cost overrun of 34 per cent,” Mr. Grant said.

“The scope of works included the construction of a dual carriageway from Milo Butler Highway to Blue Hill Road, the implementation of a service road, rehabilitation of the round-a-bout at Blue Hill Road and Harold Road and construction of a new round-a-bout at Yellow Elder Way and Harold Road.”

Mr. Halkitis said while the project is nearing an end they are now working to reform the public transport system, develop capacity in traffic management, refocus the Public Works Department so that it can design and execute a comprehensive maintenance programme for this and other infrastructure investments.

“If these activities are not implemented then the entire investment would be in vain,” he added.

The road works are expected to be completed by the end of this month, but will not be officially handed over to the government until early 2013.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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