PNM Tobago Council leader Ancil Dennis. –
PNM Tobago Council political leader Ancil Dennis says the latest Auditor General’s report for the period October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022, has raised grave concerns about the THA’s procurement processes for several projects carried out under its development programme.
He is calling on Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development Trevor James to reveal the procedures used in the construction of four road projects: King’s Peter’s Bay Road, Moriah; Milford Court-Pigeon Point Connector Road; Smithsfield-Dutchfort Connector Road, Scarborough; and the Shirvan-Store Bay Local Connector Road, Friendship Estate.
In May, High Court judge Justice Frank Seepersad granted an ex-parte injunction to the Environmental Management Authority (EMA), which had complained in an emergency application that the requisite approvals for the Shirvan-Store Bay Connector Road, were not granted by them.
The EMA’s managing director, Hayden Romano, in the application, alleged that the THA, either by itself or through the division of infrastructure, or its contractor, had not applied for a certificate of environmental clearance in breach of the EMA Act and the CEC 2001 order.
During a news conference on Tuesday at the Tobago Council’s headquarters, Scarborough, Dennis read from Page 80, section 6.82 of the report which said that procurement procedures were not presented for audit examination.
“Therefore, the auditor general was not able to verify whether proper procurement procedures were followed for the development programme projects.”
He called on Augustine and James to reveal the THA’s procurement processes and procedures.
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER: PNM’s Tobago Council is calling on THA Chief Secretary Farley Augustine and Secretary of Infrastructure, Quarries and Urban Development, Trevor James, to give the details on the procurement process they used for four major road projects. –
“I want to challenge the secretary of infrastructure and the chief secretary by extension to reveal the procurement process and procedures.”
Dennis added, “I will name the projects that I want you to tell the people of Tobago about the project that Carousal (Trading Ltd) got in Moriah; the project that the (California) Stucco Company got in Dutchfort; the project that the Stucco Company got in Friendship and Pigeon Point.
“Those four projects, I want you to tell the people of Tobago about the procurement procedures utilised to select those contractors. Because I am putting it to them and I am putting it to the people of Tobago that no proper legal, formal processes were utilised in the awarding of those contracts.”
He added the division also did not produce an evaluation report.
Dennis recalled Minority Leader Kelvon Morris had asked James for details about the contracts in the House, last year.
“Imagine an administration promised transparency but here we have the Minority Leader having to ask and sometimes when you ask them questions in the House is all kinds of technicalities and go round so and come back so and dodging the questions as if you fighting a war and bullets. No solid response on the procurement process.”
Morris later sought a response under the Freedom of Information Act.
He said after ducking the Minority Leader for three months, James said on Hansard “that it came down to six or seven contractors.”
But Dennis alleged the contractors were sole-selected.
“So there is no formal procurement process for the awards of these contracts. I want them to answer and produce the information because I am putting it to the people of Tobago that it was simply a matter of handpicking people. It was simply a matter of collusion and it was simply a matter of bid-rigging.”