Thursday, December 6, 2012

Reality Check: PP doing what PNM did not; highway to Point Fortin was PNM design

Aerial view of construction work on highway to Point Fortin
The highway to Point Fortin that the government of Trinidad & Tobago is building at a cost of more than $7.2 billion is not a new initiative and was not conceptualised by the present administration.

In the interest of continuity in national development, the People's Partnership government is going where no other government has ventured. So the opposition's objections to the highway are hypocritical, especially its support for the Highway Reroute Movement.

The idea of the highway to Point Fortin was first presented in the 1981 budget speech by then Prime Minister Dr Eric Williams but no government ever attempted to build it. In the 2010 general election, the PNM pledged to construct the highway based on the same route and design that the present administration is using. 

The promise was in its manifesto and the records would show that its plans were well advanced. In fact the Manning PNM had tenders out and had all but signed a contract with OAS of Brazil, the contractor who eventually signed on for the project when the new government took office.

The opposition is spreading misinformation that Jack Warner negotiated the contract with OAS in "just one week". That is not true. It is also insinuating something is wrong because OAS is a FIFA contractor that was awarded a contract from the world football body back in June 2008 for building stadiums in Brazil. 

In fact when Warner spoke at the launch of the highway project at Golconda he outlined the chronology to show that it was the Manning government and Works Minister Colm Imbert that selected OAS and the new government was merely concluding the transaction with the signing of the paperwork.
File: Launching construction of highway to Point Fortin. Works minister at the time time, Jack Warner, with newly appoint ed junior works minister Stacy Roopnarine
Warner said in January 2011 the tender for highway project was done on April 22, 2010 while he was still in opposition. The tender evaluation committee met on May 13 and short listed three companies, he added.

Imbert was still the Works and Transport Minister at the time. Warner said the 15-member committee, comprising government officials and experts, met on May 20, four days before the general election, and recommended that the contract be awarded to OAS, which had the lowest bid of $5.2 billion.

Referring to notes from the ministry, Warner said that same day - May 20, 2010 - the board of NIDCO, which is responsible for the project, took a decision to hand the contract to the Brazilian company.

On May 25, 2010 - the day after the People's Partnership won the election and one day before Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar took the oath of office - the NIDCO board invited Construtora to Port of spain for discussions about the contract.

Warner said the evidence is clear that he had nothing to do with the award of the contract up to that time since he was not a member of government although the PNM was voted out of office.

Warner said once it was clear that everything was OK a decision was made in December 2010 to invite OASfor final discussions following which the contract was awarded.

For the records, this is from the PNM Manifesto 2010:

Because investing in sound infrastructure is one of our Vision 2020 Pillars, the PNM Government has been spending over 8 percent of our GDP on infrastructure development and we will continue to do so in our next term. Our National Highways Programme is in three phases and involves the construction of a new highway grid, as follows:

• San Fernando to Mayaro Freeway
• San Fernando to Point Fortin/La Brea Highway
• Wallereld to Manzanilla Highway
• Caroni to Piarco Highway, from the Uriah Butler Highway
• Port of Spain to Chaguaramas Causeway
• Curepe to Princes Town/Rio Claro Highway

"The new highways are being designed to international freeway standards and comprise both new 6-lane carriageways and widening of existing 2-lane carriageways to 4 lanes.

"Tenders have already been invited from reputable international contractors for the first 3 highways in phase 1. Construction is expected to commence on the first 3 highways beore the end of 2010 and the next 3 in 2011. These 6 new highways are scheduled to be substantially complete by the end of our next term."

The PNM also promised in its mainfesto to build:
• A First Class Road/Tunnel from Curepe to the North Coast
• Sangre Grande to Toco Highway
• Blanchisseuse to Toco Highway
• Penal to Guayaguayare Highway
• Moruga to Princes Town Highway
• Manzanilla to Mayaro Highway

The party stated: "When this new highway grid is complete, no part of Trinidad will be more than 2 hours away from any other part of Trinidad by road. Citizens will be able to travel from Cedros to Toco or Mayaro to Chaguaramas in ease and comfort."

The People's Partnership government launched the Highway to Point Fortin project in January 2011. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar launched the project stating that the government would be vigilant in monitoring the most expensive infrastructure project ever undertaken in Trinidad & Tobago.

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Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai