PM orders review of $47M airports contract

By Corey Connelly
October 10 2010 – newsday.co.tt

Jack WarnerPrime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last evening signalled her Government’s intention to review the $47 million public contract awarded to a Central company for lighting projects at the Piarco International Airport.

This follows a newspaper report which alleged wrongdoing on the part of Works and Transport Minister Jack Warner in granting the award in the absence of a functioning board at the Airports Authority (AA).

The contract, reportedly made to the St Helena-based company Harry Persad and Sons Limited, was alleged to have been approved by the AA on September 21. Details of the contract were contained in a letter of acceptance, dated September 21 and sent by AA to the company.

A foreign used car dealer and broadcaster had raised concerns about Warner’s conduct in the award of the contract. But yesterday, in a brief statement, Persad-Bissessar said the matter must be addressed in the interest of transparency.

“In light of the allegations now in the public domain, for the avoidance of doubt and in the interest of transparency and accountability, the Prime Minister has concluded that the award of this contract must be reviewed with a view to rescission of same,” she said in the four-paragraph release.

Persad-Bissessar said the story referred to a contract to Harry Persad and Sons Limited, approved by the AA on September 21, 2010, suggesting that this was done a day after the contractor won the bid of the contract.

“This matter was previously brought to the attention of the Prime Minister, who had then instructed that should such a contract be awarded in the absence of accountability and transparency, the same should be voided,” she said.
Full Article : newsday.co.tt

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Kamla Probes Airport Contract
$47m lighting contract to be reviewed

…Kamla halts $83m airport lighting contracts
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has pulled the brakes on two contracts worth an estimated $83 million that was approved by the Airports Authority (AA) without a state board in place.

…Naked misconduct by somebody
Works Minister Jack Warner must come forward and tell the country if the Airport Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) awarded a $47 million contract in breach of the company’s tender rules…

…Contractors group calls for probe

…Warner: No wrongdoing
Award of multi-million dollar airport contracts

8 Responses to “PM orders review of $47M airports contract”


  • AATT’s Statement

    Following is the full statement issued yesterday by the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT):

    The management of the Airports Authority of Trinidad and Tobago wishes to inform the local media and the public about the tender process for the award of a contract for the upgrade of the airfield lighting control and monitoring system at the Piarco and Crown Point International Airports and the upgrade of the Approach Lighting System at the Piarco International Airport.

    The decision to issue a tender for these projects was approved by the former board of the Airports Authority, at a board meeting on July 31st 2009 where board members approved the issue of a tender to invite bids for the project, based on a critical need to improve runway infrastructure for both Airports, to assure safe landing of aircrafts.

    The work consists of replacing the field electrical cabinets and the installation of a new airfield lighting control system at both the Piarco and Crown Point International Airports. At present, the system at the airports is outdated and is in urgent need of upgrade. Approach lights are very critical to guiding pilots at nights or in inclement weather. This work is necessary to ensure that the facilities at both Airports remain at an international standard.

    At the same meeting the board approved the technical evaluation committee, the evaluation criteria and outlined the guidelines for receipt of tender bids. The tender was advertised in the daily newspapers during the period October 2 to 8, 2009. Mandatory pre-bidding meetings were held with companies and bidders made presentations. Bids were closed on March 24 2010 and the tender box was publicly opened on the same day. Nine submissions were received.

    The evaluations were completed by the technical evaluation committee on June 2, 2010 and two companies were ranked the highest according to the stipulated criteria. The companies were the United Engineering Service Ltd and the Harry Persad and Sons Ltd.

    This project was deemed to be critical to the Authority being able to continue to provide safe and secured aviation services in keeping with the organisation’s mandate, time was therefore of the essence. As a consequence, in the absence of a board, the decision was taken to refer this matter to the line Ministry for consideration.

    The line Ministry advised the management of the authority that given the urgency of the matter the two ranked bidders would be invited to negotiate and to submit proposals for the work to be done at Crown Point International Airport (CPIA) and Piarco International Airport (PIA) separately. Two proposals were received from the parties on September 20, 2010. Having reviewed the proposals the management of the authority referred the matter with recommendations to the line Ministry and consent was granted for the award of the contracts to the United Engineering Services Ltd and Harry Persad and Sons Ltd. for the works at CPIA and PIA respectively. It is on this basis that award letters were issued to both companies on September 21.

  • Jack: Airport contracts within the law
    He said: “He (London) said in Tobago a plane could not land. He said so to me…I said okay, let’s see what we can do.” He said the Airports Authority said it had no board but the lights were “critical”. He added that he was assured that everything was transparent with the tendering process. “And as the line minister, I had no resistance whatsoever to tell them to go ahead,” Warner added.

    …Warner: My conscience is clear
    THE AIRPORTS Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (AATT) yesterday said it referred the issue of contracts for the upgrade of lighting at the country’s two international airports to Works Minister Jack Warner after it became “critical” to do so in the absence of a board and having completed a tendering process that dated back to July 31, 2009.

    …Agents against me

    …St Helena contractor stays mum after stoppage

  • Lights Upgrade Urgent
    The new field lighting systems for Piarco and Crown Point International Airports were urgently needed to meet the mandatory requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure the safety and reliability of aviation in Trinidad and Tobago.

    Critical need to upgrade runway lighting
    Aviation director in defence of Jack approving $m contracts:

    …What Emergency?
    Rowley: If airport lights were urgent why no board in place yet…

    …Rowley on two airport contracts: Rein in Jack

    …Beware snakes in the grass
    OILFIELDS Workers Trade Union (OWTU) president Ancel Roget is warning the People’s Partnership Government about “snakes in the grass” within a number of State enterprises who, Roget said, are intent on “setting up” the ruling administration.

    …Roget to Government: Get rid of ‘PNM snakes’

    …Lutchmedial: Lights can fail during landing

    • Are you an expert? I am not an expert but common sense should tell you that somebody have to look after the lights. So you don’t stand and wait for the lights to fail. The manufacturer informs the user how long the bulbs would last,so they could be replaced ominously, lest the lights fail as you say…..are you an expert?

  • There’s lots of talk about transparency and accountability, but can this ever happen in T&T. Can we ever succeed in negotiating a buisness transaction without cry of ratchiffee and foul play… I hope that some day we can. After all look how long we independent. UKJo

  • As the wisest lady that ever lived , used to say to me in exasperation, “Lord put a hand , and if you can’t, then please put a foot.” Now dey know why we loved us our foreign, Chinese contractors brothers , and their underpaid slave driven laborers workers.
    No Madame K,and sidekick JW , we do not care about lights, and have little fear of bulbs falling and hitting one of us when we are sipping some gin and tonic at the departure lounge Piarco.
    We are more worried that Panday may never be arrested, charged, and convicted in this lifetime, or when he comes back to earth as a Blueback . We are extremely petrified that our plane might take off and leave for Miami , but end up in Cuba instead , due to the substandard work that was done , and the faulty available radar equipments that were put in place , since Uncle Panday had to skim of a couple millions during his brief political reign.
    Remember , the people are watching.

  • Jack: Chinks in PP’s armour

    …Pilots stressed
    Pilots are under stress to land at the Piarco and Crown Point International Airports because of the poor visibility of the runways due to failing and obsolete airfield lighting systems, president of the Air Traffic Controllers Association Ann Marie Plaza-Hosein disclosed yesterday.

    …The AATT report on airport lights
    The following report was compiled by Airports Authority general manager Louis Frederick and other managers on the status of the airfield lighting systems at Piarco and Crown Point International Airports.

    …Let the public know how money is spent
    Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley says people are concerned about how public funds were being spent because they are not being told the truth.

    …Rowley: Improper procurement bad

    …Jack: No plan to revive Rowley’s political career
    WORKS and Transport Minister Jack Warner said yesterday he would not be used by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley to revive what he described as Rowley’s dying political career.

    …Kamla praised for stopping contracts

    …Transparency head: Probe $83m airport contracts

  • Safety first

    Newsday Editorial
    Wednesday, October 13 2010

    Perhaps she is haunted by the ghost of the Piarco project and by the hovering spectres of Ish Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, but Prime Minister Mrs Kamla Persad-Bissessar might have acted a little too precipitously last weekend in the name of transparency. It is comprehensible, admirable that the Prime Minister is anxious to distance herself from the corrupt politics of her predecessors Basdeo Panday and Patrick Manning, that she is more sensitive to media and public opinion than they were, but she also has to consider her ministers, particularly one as efficient as Jack Warner and one whose loyalty is unquestionable. As recently as late last month, when PNM MP Paula Gopee-Scoon attacked and ridiculed the PM, it was Mr Warner who rose to her stout defence. Let’s retrace the facts that led to the public chastisement of Mr Warner last weekend. A radio talk show host states that in his opinion and to his knowledge, contracts have been wrongly awarded for the upgrade of the Piarco and Crown Point Airports’ lighting systems. Even as Mr Warner is explaining his case, the Prime Minister cancels the contract and then flies to London leaving Mr Warner to defend himself. And what did Mr Warner do that was wrong? By all accounts, he finished a process started in 2009, not we believe because of kickbacks but because of the sort of man Mr Warner is: he wanted to get the job done. He also thought as line Minister he had the power to sign off on the contracts, although he should have first taken it to Cabinet. We may say that the Prime Minister was right to immediately annul the deals worth millions of our taxpayers dollars, particularly given the corruption of the past PNM regime and its indifference to public outcry. But allegations are just that: allegations. Did the Minister not deserve a hearing? Did the PM give Mr Warner a chance to give his side, whether he was right or wrong?

    We have no problem with the contract being made null, but not on the say so of a radio announcer with an axe to grind.

    The Prime Minister should have been politically more savvy. There is another issue. As much as TT desires transparency, the PM cannot exhibit a knee jerk response to every accusation for then as she seeks to endear herself to the public, no work will get done; the Prime Minister will alienate her ministers and her MPs and the Government will be weakened. By moving too hastily last weekend, the PM has effectively thrown Jack Warner to the PNM wolves. Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley who Mr Warner hit hard in Parliament on Friday has been snapping at his heels for months. Dr Rowley desperately wants a piece of Mr Warner for he recognises the MP’s national appeal and his competence. Dr Rowley also knows if he undermines Mr Warner he weakens the PP. Ironically, this past weekend, the Prime Minister helped him take a bite out of Mr Warner. The situation was not diplomatically handled and Mr Warner might well be within his right to decide to take no further initiative for fear of embarrassment. Is this what TT needs or wants? Dr Rowley has asserted that the airports require no urgent work that could not have waited. Yet his own Tobago colleague, THA Chief Secretary Orville London complained in August to Mr Warner about the lights at Crown Point. And a report obtained by Newsday from the Airports Authority yesterday shows persistent failure of the runway lights, both at Piarco and Crown Point. Is this not a clear and present peril? Obviously, the tendering process will now have to be reviewed, perhaps recommenced. While Mr Warner arguably should have taken the matter to Cabinet, it is clear that this is a very dangerous situation. Trinidad and Tobago runs the risk of being blacklisted by international airlines that fly here.

    Given the safety concerns, and there undoubtedly are serious concerns when the field lights at our airports repeatedly fail, a new Airports Authority Board must be quickly appointed and the tendering process reviewed as a matter of urgency. An aviation accident is the last thing we want. Dr Rowley, who demanded a fair hearing in the Landate matter, has given none in this Piarco lighting contract scenario. “I could tell you that there is no situation where the airport lights are about to shut down tomorrow morning,” he asserts. The Opposition Leader better be right- lives are at stake. Today’s editorial ends with an assertion: if we are playing politics with the lighting systems at the Piarco and Crown Point International airports we are going to regret it.

    http://www.newsday.co.tt/editorial/0,129047.html

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