Govt mulls legal action over Heritage Wharf
Government is mulling legal action against contractors Correia Construction, headed by Dennis Correia, and Bruce Perinchiefs engineering firm Entech in relation to the Heritage Wharf project.
And it has emerged that the former Progressive Labour Party administration received a report, which concluded that the cruise ship pier at Dockyard had some structural deficiencies, before the December 17 general election.
We are taking legal advice and Im very concerned because there was a previous report which came out when the PLP were in power and at that time we asked them to table it, and they didnt table it, said Public Works Minister Trevor Moniz. But they said it cleared anyone who did any work out there and its now become apparent that that wasnt the case.
The preliminary report said there were defects and deficiencies, and the full report said there were defects and deficiencies.
Opposition MP Michael Weeks, who was Public Works Minister until his party lost power last year, confirmed on Friday that he received a report which indicated there were some issues just before the election and it was sent straight to the Attorney Generals Chambers for advice.
He said he could not speak definitively on the report because he did not review it himself.
There was a preliminary report that we had to send to Chambers for review, and that happened around early December and I was not there long enough to get the report back, said Mr Weeks.
But my technical people gave me a little summary of it and they said that not everything was at it should have been. But I did not want to speak on it until I got the report back.
Government had praised the project and its contractor Correia Construction in the lead up to last years general election saying it had paid for itself several times over.
But it does appear now that the Public Works Ministry had concerns about the quality of work done on the docks even then.
Mr Weeks said that he would have been inclined to have Correia Construction make any necessary fixes but was advised that it wouldnt be politically acceptable, and the decision was in any event up to the Procurement Office.
Government was also seeking to modify the docks to accommodate larger cruise ships, a $22.4 million contract which was awarded early this year to Sunrise Construction Ltd, Crisson Construction and Onsite Engineering.
Mr Correia complained to this newspaper at the time that his company was not invited to bid on the project — although it was the only one on the Island with the equipment to do the work.
And, he said, the dock was designed for the Voyager-sized ships, and has already been outclassed by larger ships.
Mr Moniz confirmed that the tender process began before the election.
Efforts to reach Mr Correia and Mr Perinchief last night were unsuccessful.
The Dockyard wharf has been a controversial project since inception. It was the subject of an investigation by the Auditor General when it emerged that the final tab to the taxpayer was millions more than budgeted. More eyebrows were raised in April last year when the Progressive Labour Party Government decided to remove a $4 million damaged thruster wall, instead of repairing it — a decision it defended as a cost-saving measure.
But the Works Ministry said it would investigate the Wharfs structural stability, with Mr Weeks insisting that investigations up to that point indicated that damage to the thruster wall was not as a result of work done by Correia Construction Ltd.
Heritage Wharf was completed in 2009 at a cost of $60 million, although it was said to have been contracted for $35 million.
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