OBA: How Was U.S. Company Chosen For Project?

May 28, 2012

The $36-million Ireland Island housing project was never put to tender and has “all the markings of yet another inside deal,” the One Bermuda Alliance said today [May 28].

“The Government must answer two other questions on this deal: How was the US company chosen for this project and who chose it,” the OBA said.

The statement from the OBA also said the project is sending millions of Bermuda taxpayer dollars to US dealers and outsourcing jobs that could be done by Bermudian workers.

It makes a “mockery of Government claims that it is protecting Bermudian jobs” the OBA said, as the project minimizes Bermudian jobs at a time when hundreds of construction workers remain out of work.

On May 11, Minister Weeks announced the $36 million project, saying it was expected to take 18 months to complete, and would be paid for by WEDCo with the Government providing a shortfall guarantee for this project.

On May 20, WEDCo Chairman Walter Lister said the houses are being “purchased turn-key” from Coastal Precast Systems, which is located in Virginia. “The contract tenders for the demolition, erection and completion of the project have not been issued therefore no one to date has been awarded any work, however, this will be done over the coming weeks,” Mr Lister said.

The full statement from the OBA is below:

Government’s Ireland Island housing plan is a big issue. While all parties – OBA, PLP and UBP – support better housing for people where it is needed, we have major questions and concerns about the Government’s approach to this particular project. Here are some of them:

Why is Government competing against Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda?

Building 100 new housing units when there is a major glut of empty apartments and homes across the island puts the Government in direct competition with Mr. and Mrs. Bermuda, who need rental income to help meet their mortgage payments.

To add insult to injury, the Government is using their taxpayer dollars to compete against them. If the project goes ahead, we think it should be limited to replacing the 48 existing units. Building another 52 units will only make life more challenging for Bermudians with places to rent.

Why did the Government not open this contract to Bermudians?

The Government has been trying to convince Bermuda it is turning a new leaf on good governance – to make sure there is “fair administration, fair access and fair dealings”, as the Premier said Friday.

Yet this $36-million project was never put to tender and has all the markings of yet another ‘inside deal’ that Bermudians grew to detest over the last five years. The Government must answer two other questions on this deal: How was the US company chosen for this project and who chose it?

Ireland Island project does not maximize Bermudian jobs potential

As things stand, this project is sending millions of Bermuda taxpayer dollars to US dealers and outsourcing jobs that could be done by Bermudian workers.

This is a missed-opportunity in the making and makes a mockery of Government claims that it is protecting Bermudian jobs. This is a project that minimizes Bermudian jobs at a time when hundreds of construction workers remain out of work.

The Government’s priority must be to create jobs. It is the lack of jobs that is really hurting Bermudian families today, and to see job opportunities sent overseas is something all Bermuda need to question.

Tenants must be consulted

Our discussions with tenants of Victoria and Albert Row have revealed a deep disappointment that the Government has not consulted with them. They have been invited to meetings and presented with, as one resident said, “take-it-or-leave-it” plans.

We also know they are terribly concerned about the rent ranges for the new units, from $1,600 to $2,100. We know these rates are above – in some cases far above – what they currently pay.

For many, it may be difficult to understand why people would want to live in these old accommodations. What they don’t know is that there is a strong sense of community in Ireland Island. In some cases the families have lived there for 30 or more years. These are not just buildings, these are their homes! Let’s give them a chance to tell us what they believe is the best option.

Government must focus on real housing needs

As Party Leader Craig Cannonier said a few weeks ago, “Bermuda already has enough so-called ‘affordable’ housing. What we don’t have enough of is housing for people who can’t afford ‘affordable’ housing.

The Government once had a plan for a purpose-built facility to house the truly needy. But it was shelved for the new TCD building. It has said there are plans to renovate some old buildings as shelters, but there remains nothing in place for the truly needy. That is where the real housing need lies – with the truly needy.”

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Comments (28)

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  1. no strategy says:

    You've got to be kidding me. This from the OBA, who's candidiates and MPs outsource Bermudian Jobs daily.

    Oh yup, that's right; Bermuda has a pre-cast manufacturing facility. Yup, could have been done here.

    These people are full of nonsense.

    People should ask themselves why does the OBA ask questions in the press, instead of asking questions directly.

    Answer: they aren't interested in the truth, just talking trash.

    Bermudians will see right through this smokescreen!

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  2. Family Man says:

    I guess the "clean hands" government starts tomorrow, not last week.

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  3. Family Man says:

    Is the government also waiving import duties on the imported pre-fab boxes?

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  4. oba like cry babies says:

    Why all of a sudden are the ubp/bda/oba concerned about people being afforded the oppertunity at a chance to live in a clean and decent inviorment?????
    It is so amazing how now that the bottom has dropped out of the market we should be concerned with my fellow BERMUDIANS being able to afford to pay thier bank notes, they certainly did,nt have me or the residents of dockyard in mind when they were building them. I recall not to long ago we as bermudiand had to stand in line to rent from a bermudian landlord especially if there was someone white or an employee of an international company applying for that same apartment. But nooooo our money was,nt good enough well im here to say i knew the day would arrive where the services of those same people crying foul would no longer be needed. Do I feel sorry for those people with those apartments??? noooooooo so go ahead govt build lots of them up west I support your efforts. Those landlords remind me of the taxi service here as long as there is a ship in they drive past you even if your going in the same direction they must travel to get to that ship. YET come end of season call for one and you get ten of them rushing to snatch your money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I saw a little old lady at lindos in warwick just this saturday who had been there for 45 mins waiting in this heat for a taxi she called for. I guess by the time she was able to get back home the milk was sour the meat decaying and half a day of her life lost.

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  5. Pastor Syl says:

    I am at a loss why I m the first to comment on this article. Surely Bermudians are as concerned as I am about these issues. We were told first that this project is to help create jobs for Bermudians, but we are not building Bermudian homes, we are importing at a cost, pre-fab homes to replace historic units, which will then be available to sitting tenants of those historical units at a higher rent than they have ever paid before, at a time when no one's job is secure, and where there are multiple empty rental units already out there on the market!

    What is this nonsense? How do we stop them doing this? It's wrong, and it flies in the face of what they have been telling us. I object strenuously to the further destruction of our historical buildings. I also object to more so called affordable housing when there is a glut. Further, I object to calling it "affordable" housing when the folks it is supposedly being built for will have to struggle to afford it.

    Not good enough! Not hardly good enough, PLP.

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  6. Shaking the Head says:

    If no tendering for demolition, erection and completion have yet been awarded, how is the price of $36 million calculated? At best it is based on estimates of what it should cost, but let's see what the final costs are, unless the contractors and prices are already known.

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  7. ABC says:

    HUH

    WHAT REALLY GOIN ON PLP STILL UP 2 NO GOOD

    DONT U WORRY WHAT U IN DE DARK SHALL COME OUT IN DE LIGHT [__]

    SCRATCH MY BACK I SCRATCH URS DAT MOTTO GOIN 2 STOP

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  8. ABC says:

    WE ALL NO ISLAND CONSTRUCTION GET FIRST CALL

    2 FUNNY

    ONLY IF WALLS CAN SPEAK

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    • Decisions says:

      They did not win the Tyre contract.

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      • Truth (Original) says:

        ...you mean they didn't retain the tire contract. They had no business getting it in the first place. Cronyism.

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  9. Same S**T Different Day says:

    First off i would like to say the tendering process in my opinion is out the window as there are only a few contractors that can handle a project this size and they are all in bed with the government anyways. Secondly whereis the transparency on this project? Lastly like the many capital projects that this government have tried to manage who will be overseeing the project and ENSURING that there will be very little to no overruns on the project?
    If you can assure me of that then you can have my vote.

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  10. Tired of the lies says:

    Didnt Minister Weeks say that the 36M project will also assist in creating local jobs? Hello? Can anyone answer? Also where is the 36M coming from?

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  11. Tragic says:

    We desperately need money in the Bermuda economy. Here is a chance to get $36M spent in Bermuda, instead, $36M is going overseas. Tragic!

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    • Joonya says:

      Yep. This government doesn't seem to grasp the basic principles economics.

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  12. Truth (original) says:

    I just don't understand how PLP supporters can't see this for what it is. Minister Weeks said that it would be more expensive to renovate but I wonder if he got quotes from local contractors.

    If he did, fair enough but I certainly don't think that the Government needs to build an additional 50+ units in the west end. That will decimate the rental market in that end of the island.

    They refuse to listen to the people.

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    • Soooo says:

      Thing is they plan to knock down about 40 residences and replace them with about 100 and rent them for 2x the present rent.... My questions are:

      1. Bermuda has an over abundance of rental units, how can Government justify adding 50 more to the maket which will compete directly with privatly owned units?

      2. The planning application for these 100+ units has been turned down twice, primarily due to "lack of shared (common green) space" since the plan has not been signifiantly changed will or has the Minister overturned the panning board's finding?

      3. As you knowe there is the Convict Grave Yard at the rear of Albert Row off Cochrane Rd. What safeguards are in place to peotect this historic site?

      4.Wedco have been charged with maintaining the Dockyard and surrounding properties. This includes Albert Row and the historic buildings just over Cochrane Bridge (on the left) which are close to requiring demolition. How can WEDCO afford to spend $36 million on this reconstruction when they cannot afford to maintain what they have?

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      • Rory says:

        @ Sooooo

        Your point:

        1. Bermuda has an over abundance of rental units, how can Government justify adding 50 more to the maket which will compete directly with privatly owned units?

        IMO Government will not compete with privately owned units because privately owned units are not geared towards the lower income population.
        Bermuda may have an abundance of rental units, but there is a short supply of affordable rental units. If landlords are hurting so much, why dont they list their property with the BHC to get tenants. Quite a number of people are on the BHC waiting list for rental units.

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  13. Wee Pow says:

    Truth.. I am about to do renovations to my home and the estimate the QS gave me I could have built a new house! And I thought my renovations were not that extensive!!!

    I find it funny how the OBA are always saying "couldnt we find Bermudians to get this contract.. or do this when relating to Gov't" but yet when it comes to IB it is the opposite. They disregard Bermudians all together... Never have I heard the oBA state anything about IB's role in training Bdians. If anything their supporters are the first ones to state how lazy B'dians are, and that they are not skilled enough etc.. I wonder why that is?

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    • Truth (Original) says:

      1. Bermudians are being trained every day in IB. I am one of them.

      2. Having built a house already, I can tell you that QS's are conservative in their estimation. That serves a very practical purpose.

      3. If Bermudians are too expensive then fine but I want to know if they had a chance to quote the project or did the Govt just assume that to be the case.

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  14. Triangle Drifter says:

    The people of Somerset, particularly the landlords & their voting familys should send the PLP a message & throw the PLP reps in the area out. It is quite obvious that the PLP Government could not care less about them.

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  15. Cox must go says:

    cox must go

    cox must go

    cox must go

    cox must go

    time for cox to go

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  16. Tender? says:

    Again, I ask. How much of that $36 million goes overseas and how much will be spent in Bermuda?

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  17. navin johnson says:

    Wedco is the PLP right? Walter Lister the 32 year back bencher.....

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  18. Amazed says:

    I find it interesting that the OBA think that Government should not be competing with Mr and Mrs. Bermuda because they need rental income to pay their mortgages. Firstly mortgage problems are between the borrowers and the lenders not the Government. Secondly many of the properties that remain empty are because people still cannot afford them. Many rental prices have come down because of the increased availability but many have not. Many of the houses DO NOT have a mortgage obligation and are for investment purposes. If the OBA could convince Mr. and Mrs Bermuda to reduce their rents to an affordable level then there would be no need for the government to get involved. If the OBA really believes that $1600 - $2100 is not affordable then they should be trying to get Mr. and Mrs Bermuda to reduce their rents?

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    • Sean says:

      The OBA doesn't have to. Tenants have been negotiating lower rents with their landlords for the last couple of years. My place is now half what it was five years ago.

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