SLP demands answers from WASCO over John Compton dam project

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SLP demands answers from WASCO over John Compton dam project
Prime Minister Hon Allen Chastanet at recent visit to John Compton Dam
Prime Minister Allen Chastanet (centre) at a recent visit to John Compton Dam.

(PRESS RELEASE) — The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) is calling on the public to heed calls from the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASCO) to be conservative in the use of water and to avoid wastage as Saint Lucia is still feeling the effects of drought conditions.

Notwithstanding its regard for WASCO’s appeals, the SLP continues to have concerns about the lack of significant progress with the John Compton Dam Rehabilitation Project. It must be remembered that the project was first launched in November 2015 with over $18 million held in reserve from the special levy paid by consumers for that purpose. Four years later there is no visible sign that the dredging of silt from the dam is near commencement.

The Party believes that the public deserves to be given assurances concerning the status of the Project as well as the operations of WASCO in order to have confidence that we are moving purposefully towards mitigating the vulnerability of the water sector.

It therefore calls upon WASCO to answer the following questions in order to prove that ongoing activities at the Dam Rehabilitation Project match the boast of achievements from some government Ministers but which do not seem to be reflected in progress on the ground.

1. What is the true status of the John Compton Dam Rehabilitation project?
2. Why was the initial bidding process aborted and followed by a delay of one year before a new process was initiated?
3. How much of the capacity of the dam has been lost to silt as of today? Is it true that currently, silt occupies over 60% of the capacity of the dam?
4. Why has the dredging of silt not started two years after the engagement of contractors?
5. Why are starter dykes, to accommodate the dredged material from the dam, not constructed two years after Mega Contracting Inc. was contracted to undertake those works?
6. Does Mega Contracting Inc. have the required capacity to undertake those works?

Information provided by WASCO in a press release in mid-September 2016, stated that: “ the John Compton Dam Rehabilitation Project is actively ongoing with requests for proposals being sought.”

The release stated further: “These can be found on the Government and Caribbean Development Bank’s websites, the Government Gazette and the Voice Newspaper. Deadline for submission of these to the Central Tenders Board is Friday 23rd September, 2016.”

It means then that WASCO is best placed to explain the following:
● Why was the sole pre-qualifying company, CIE Limited, not invited to submit a bid?
● Why did it invite Mega Contracting Inc. and Saiwak Construction and Heavy Equipment Rentals to submit documents for pre-qualification AFTER the deadline had passed and even then they did not meet tendering requirements?
● Was WASCO aware of an alleged direct relation between Mega Contracting Inc. and a government minister and that consequently a possible conflict of interest may have arisen?
● Why has a bidding process which was expected to conclude in 2016 not yet resulted in any dredging of material from the JCD and, can the public expect any change in that situation any time soon?

The Labour Party believes the government is deliberately hiding information about the dredging of the John Compton Dam and wishes to stress that water security is too vital to the population for WASCO to continue operating under such a cloud of secrecy. — SOURCE: SLP

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