The opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party has requested answers from the Water and Sewerage Company INC (WASCO), in connection with the its tendering process.
The questions were raised by Castries South MP, Doctor Ernest Hilaire at an SLP news conference Wednesday.
The following is the opening statement he made to the conference:
During the No Confidence Motion, I raised the concerns of many Saint Lucians that significant projects were awarded without tendering or with questionable tendering processes. One such project was the Sediment Disposal Area (SDA) at the Roseau Dam Desilting Project which was awarded to a local company. The Minister of Agriculture who has responsibility for WASCO interjected claiming that WASCO has followed a proper public tendering process.
This was followed up last week with an official press statement from WASCO which stated in no uncertain terms that the de-silting of the John Compton Dam and the site preparation works was done through a competitive bidding process. WASCO also claims that the said tender process was subject to oversight by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The Labour Party believes that whoever instructed WASCO to issue that Press Release is attempting to mislead the public. The Labour Party stands by its questioning of the bidding process based on information received and will hold that position unless and until the Labour Party and the people of Saint Lucia get clear answers or clarity from WASCO on the following questions which are relevant to the issue of whether there was a fair, objective and honest tender.
The Labour Party called on WASCO last week to provide answers with proof to a number of questions. To date there has been no response from WASCO.
We wish to once again ask the following of WASCO:
- Was the initial notification for prequalification not published on 5 August 2017 with a deadline of 16 September 2017?
- How many companies submitted prequalification documents?
- Is it not true that only CIE) submitted documents?
- Why was CIE not asked to submit a tender as not only did it be the only one that it qualify but was the only company that sent in a prequalification bid?
- Did WASCO not ask Mega Contracting Inc. and Saiwak Construction and Heavy Equipment Rentals to submit documents for prequalification AFTER THE DEADLINE HAD PASSED and even when they did not meet tendering requirements?
- Despite the above did WASCO not send a letter on 18 October 2017 to Mega Contracting Inc. and Saiwak Construction, indicating that they have prequalified, when they did not?
- Did WASCO not issue tender documents on 8 November 2017 to both companies even when they did not qualify?
- Did Saiwak Construction not submit a bid together with another company?
- Did Mega Contracting Inc. not submit a bid together with a foreign company?
- Did Mega Contracting Inc. qualify as they were bidding with a foreign company when WASCO itself admitted that it had to be a local contractor?
- Was Mega Contracting Inc. not awarded the contract?
- Can WASCO clarify the information that is in the public domain of a direct relation between Mega Contracting Inc. and a Government Minister?
- Since WASCO stated that the bidding process was done with the oversight of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), can WASCO show any of CDB’s involvement?
Beyond these questions, the Saint Lucia Labour Party has serious concerns with the politicisation of WASCO and is of the firm belief that the activities of WASCO will have to be investigated. For example, based on information that we received, we are led to believe that the management of WASCO at this is highly irregular, and we therefore highlight the following:
- The Chairman of WASCO is the Vice-Chairman of the United Workers Party;
- The Chairman sits on every sub-committee of the Board including committees which provide oversight on the functioning of WASCO;
- The Chairman is now the Acting General Manager whilst the General Manager is on vacation leave. This is even more irregular given that WASCO has numerous department managers who could have acted as General Manager or even Officer-in-Charge.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party wishes to inform WASCO that it must not engage in partisan political activity and perform the role of advocate for any Minister. WASCO is a statutory body and must always serve the national interest and not continue to be used for political purposes.
The Saint Lucia Labour Party awaits the response of WASCO to the questions posed above and to demonstrate that there is transparency and accountability in the management of its affairs.