The Ministry of Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport has issued the statement below regarding the stoppage of works along the Bocage/Sunbilt and Entrepot/Independence City Road Rehabilitation Project:
On October 13 2011, a contract was signed between the Government of Saint Lucia and the contracting firm of Asphalt and Mining St. Lucia Company Ltd for the rehabilitation of the Bocage/Sunbilt and Entrepot/Independence City roads.
The terms of the contract were under a design-build finance arrangement. The contract sum for this project is $9,486,138.98, and it was agreed that the contractor would be paid an interest rate of 5.5% over five years, commencing three months after the issuance of the completion certificate. The original completion date was set for October 2012.
The contractor received an advance payment certificate of $1,786,651. From the $1.7 million in advance, the Government has recouped $500,000. In essence, the contractor owes the Government over $1,200,000 in advances.
The contractor also received a mobilisation fee of $675.000. As a result, before any work commenced, the contractor received over $2.3 million in advance payments and mobilisation.
It must be noted that the issuance of the advance payment certificate was not accompanied by the requisite authority. The Procurement and Stores Regulation – Revised Laws of Saint Lucia, Section 21, Chapter 15:01 states: “No advance payments other than a mobilisation fee may be paid on any contract without the written approval of the Director of Finance and Planning”. There is no evidence of any such approval.
The Government, through the Ministry of Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport has fulfilled all of its responsibilities to the contractor including the approval all verified certificates when they become due. The Government therefore cannot be held accountable for the current status of this stalled project and the great inconvenience that it has caused.
In an effort to ensure the completion of this project at the soonest, the Ministry of Infrastructure, Port Services and Transport has been in discussion with its technical officers and the attorney general to chart a way forward.