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Burch defends DeSilva sand contract

Scott Barnett in the bunker at Port Royal Golf Course at the Gosling’s Invitational last year (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The tourism minister’s company won the contract to deliver sand to fill golf course bunkers after it submitted a bid 300 per cent lower than its rival, the House of Assembly heard yesterday

Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch said Island Construction Services, led by Zane DeSilva, submitted a tender price of $546,000 for the project at Port Royal Golf Course.

Colonel Burch, the Minister of Public Works, said the only other company to submit a tender was Bermuda Stone Company, which bid $1.815 million.

The Ministry of Public Works estimate was $558,397.

Craig Cannonier, the Leader of the Opposition, had called for the contract to be put back out to tender because it was awarded to a company owned by a Cabinet member.

But Colonel Burch told MPs: “Island Construction’s bid was 300 per cent lower than the next lowest bidder, and 7 per cent lower than the Ministry of Public Works’ estimate.

“Ministry of Public Works technical officers determined that the tender submitted by Island Construction Services for the proposed work was the best value, they displayed their understanding of the ministry’s requirements and budgeted accordingly, while maintaining a competitive price.”

Colonel Burch said the recommendation was made without any involvement from himself.

The minister also claimed Mr Cannonier had shown “an incredible lack of understanding of procurement processes” by insisting that Mr DeSilva should have recused himself from bidding on the contract.

He said: “A blind man could see the hypocrisy in such a statement. That was never uttered under either a UBP or OBA government that he led with sitting ministers whose companies successfully bid on government contracts or were simply arbitrarily awarded them.”

Colonel Burch also gave an update on preparations for the PGA Bermuda Championship, which Port Royal will host from October 31 to November 3.

He said: “I can report that excitement is growing for the tournament and staff at Port Royal are working flat out to make it a success.

“Needless to say, the recent hurricane has caused some damage to foliage on the course, but I can report that much of the bunker work has not been impacted and progress on the remaining bunkers is proceeding apace with the nine back holes being completed so far.”

He said staff from the Department of Parks, the Skills Development Programme and the Hustle Truck were helping remove fallen trees and other clean up work necessary after Humberto.

Michael Dunkley, a One Bermuda Alliance backbencher, said that he was satisfied that the procurement process had been conducted appropriately.

He added: “I’m glad there’s been some transparency because obviously, in a small place like Bermuda, it’s needed.

“We should not push out just because of the positions they hold.”

Mr Dunkley asked Colonel Burch whether there was an approved budget for work at the course to prepare for the tournament.

Colonel Burch said: “There is not an approved budget for the works.

“We are still carving out what is regular work at Port Royal versus specific PGA work.”

Mr Dunkley also asked whether any outside contractors were being used to perform the work.

He added: “Have all been approved through the regular bidding process?”

Colonel Burch said that no outside contractors were doing work. He added that D&J Construction Company and Dynamic Excavating & Landscaping had been used to move the sand.