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PM Defends Contractor after Unfinished Roof Collapses

Roof Collapse

— Contractor Had No Written Contract nor Risk Insurance

By Licec Bastian
Journal Staff Writer

Prime Minister Philip Davis and Works and Utilities Minister Alfred Sears defended
the local contractor of a building under construction on the campus of the R.M. Bailey
Senior High School, while also expressing confidence in the contractor.
Two weeks ago, the roof of the lunch pavilion being constructed on the school’s
campus collapsed. A video of the collapse circulated social media and raised
eyebrows with many questioning the quality of work and the safety of the structure.
Last Friday, the Ministry of Works and Utilities released a statement titled R.M.
Bailey High School Lunch Pavilion – Roof Collapse, addressing the incident that
occurred on Wednesday, August 9.
“It is reported that the employees of the general contractor, either in an effort to take
down some of the members or adjust the members, removed some of the bracing
making the system unstable and causing a collapse of the trusses. We can also report
that there were no injuries to persons, the site was fenced thereby restricting public
access and a work stop order has been issued,” the ministry’s statement read.
Ministry officials further added that the contractor Anthony Roker of A&M
Construction accepted full responsibility and agreed to reconstruct the roof at no cost
to the government.
However, the prime minister and Minister Sears insisted on Sunday, during a tour of
school repairs at various campuses across the capital, that a roof did not collapse but
instead its trusses.
“No, no, no, a roof did not collapse, some of the trusses collapsed because bracing
was removed. The contractor is a contractor who is well known to the Ministry of
Works and has done exceptional and extraordinary work,” Works Minister Sears said.
“So, the Ministry has confidence in the contractor.”
The Ministry of Works statement also released some information that was not
intended for public consumption. Officials noted to the media that it was for internal

use and requested it not be divulged. That statement was recalled and a new one
However, the media pressed government officials on Sunday as to whether the
contractor had a written contract or insurance as the statement noted under a section
titled Possible Questions From The Press/Public, “Did the contractor have a
contract?” to which the answer, in part, was “Unfortunately no, as it relates to a
formalized written contract.”
Another question officials anticipated, “Did the contractor have contractor all risk and
liability insurance?” to which the answer was “Once again and unfortunately, no.”
Prime Minister Davis admitted that the contractor had no written contract nor did he
have risk and liability insurance.
“He had a contract. The question is whether it’s a written or an oral contract. He in
fact had a contract. It was to be reduced to writing and in fact the insurance; I
understand that the contractor decided that he would self-insure until all of the dots
and the i’s would have been crossed, which is not unacceptable,” the prime minister
“You could self-insure yourself. He takes the risk, which he has done. He said the
trusses collapsed and I’ll make that good. That’s self-insurance. That is acceptable too
if the ministry deems it appropriate.”
He also lambasted print media.
“What sometimes troubles me with the print media, I expect it from social media
because there are many authors and journalists engaged in the social media press, but
responsible journalism, I think, requires that you understand the facts, and don’t turn
an incident into a controversy. Examine the incident to determine whether it should be
controversial,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“The first thing you talk about is a roof; so, the whole country is believing that some
roof, shingled and complete, somehow collapsed. And it was constructed by some
friends of the Progressive Liberal Party – some friends who got a contract, right, and
he was incompetent, which is so far from the truth.
“But that’s the impression that the print media gave, and they were here; they didn’t
see a roof. I happened to be here along with the minister the very day; [because] we
were doing our own private inspection of work to see how the progress of these

schools were coming, and when we came, what I saw was those trusses were up….no
“The contractor was not on site, we left [and] the next thing I heard the roof collapsed
and I was wondering, which roof? Not where I was.”
Dispelling rumors that the contractor may have been given the contract because of
political affiliation, the prime minister asserted that those rumors are far from the
“I have confidence, like the minister of works, I have confidence in this contractor; he
has done work for many years for the Ministry of Works and not just for our
administration, just to dispel any sort of favouritism that this is some PLP who is
incompetent,” Prime Minister Davis said.
“He did much work for the FNM and schools as well. In fact, we met projects that
they had given to him. Fortunately, we don’t engage in the stop, review, and cancel,
and we are satisfied with his work. He’s been a master builder.
“And for the press to have carried the story in such a way to suggest that he was
incompetent, and it is some major scandal is really troubling.
“I don’t mind when you are editorializing or giving your opinion on things, but let’s
just make sure it’s rested on facts. You could criticize me, I expect it; in fact, I want it
because that’s what makes me better.
“I don’t want anyone to just agree to please me, because that don’t make me any
better. I need to know if I am doing what is right. I need to know if I’m doing
something wrong. I need to know what I’m doing, how it’s impacting on others.”
“I only ask, [you all] are the fourth estate? That gives [you all] some responsibility

Written by Jones Bahamas

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