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Piarco Commission of Inquiry: Day 65

Quantity Surveyor: Govt overpaid contractors $110M

A Quantity Surveyor who inspected the Piarco Airport Terminal to determine the cost of materials used in Construction Packages three and nine yesterday said government overpaid contractors TT$110 million as it did not get value for money and the quality of work was "very poor."

The contractors for CP3 were Northern Construction Ltd, Yorke and Coosals. CP9 was awarded to Northern Construction Ltd.

Giving testimony before the Commission of Inquiry into the Piarco Airport Project at the Caribbean Court of Justice, Knolly Skinner from Skinner and Joseph QS Practice said the external enclosure (from the first floor upwards) is primarily gypsum with a fine wire mesh with a spray on finish.

"With the type of weather we have the country will have to replace that enclosure very soon."

Skinner also expressed concerns about the concession area. He said the internal facade of the external wall should have been finished, but at present the aluminum frame is exposed. He said this posed problems for the protection of the building. Skinner described the spiral stairs leading up to the Apron Control Tower as "horrendous", saying it would cause anyone using it to become giddy.

"The accommodation for the Controllers is very limited, it is constructed from plastic and gypsum and there are no facilities for the workmen, if they want to use the toilet they have to come down this spiral staircase."

Skinner gave the estimated the cost of the two packages at $150 million (excluding furniture fittings and equipment). Using a "plus margin" of 15 percent he said it could have cost $172.5 million. The contract price for the packages was $283 million.

"The client paid $283 million for works that should have cost at the onset $172.55 million."

Skinner gave a breakdown of the costing of various elements in CPs 3&9 after he did a site visit.

These figures were then compared with the contract price. (Skinner's figures did not include variations after the contract was awarded).

Skinner said he estimated the cost of CP3 at $86,638,296. The contract price was $128,154,931a difference of $41,516,635. For CP9 Skinner and his team estimated it to cost $63,408,821. The contract price was $154,847,143. A difference of $91,438,322.

Skinner, who was asked by the Commission to do an assessment said that along with two assistants he visited the airport on October 2 this year for a visual inspection and take note of materials and type of construction used on CPs 3&9.

Skinner said a cost per square foot approach was used for CP3 (building foundation and structure) comparing it with empirical information on a similar building constructed by Skinner and Joseph. The same approach was used for CP 9 (the terminal building) but it also included measuring and pricing of drawings.

Skinner said adjustments were made in the costing taking into consideration the cost of the glass padding that the glass in the airport would have to be sound proof and the glass panels in the airport were higher than in the building used for comparative purposes.

"We had to come up with a reasonable price for the glass padding for the terminal building" Skinner said.


Emile Elias, former President of the TT Contractors Association will from 9.30 am tomorrow appear before the Commission of Inquiry into the Piarco Airport Project.

He will be the first of three Joint Consultative Council for the Construction (JCC) Industry witnesses to appear before the Commission. Elias is the co-founder of both the TT Contractors Association and JCC.

Also to give testimony are Brian Lewis, former President of the JCC and TT Institute of Architects, Winston Riley current President of the JCC and former President of both the TT Contractors Association and the Association of Professional Engineers.

The JCC's evidence is being led by Jason Mootoo.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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