Videos & Audio: MPs On Black Watch Pass Cost

February 14, 2016

Public Works Minister Craig Cannonier fielded questions on the Black Watch Pass road works in the House of Assembly on Friday [Feb 12], with Opposition MPs asking questions about the costs, use of land and more.

Audio Excerpt Of Q&A In The House

Minister Craig Cannonier’s Comments

Minister Cannonier told Bernews, “I think some valid questions were being asked about Black Watch Pass as we know it’s been going on for a little while now to get it completed. Towards the end of the questioning period it became a bit speculative, I believe, in some of the questions. I want to go back to what I think originally they were looking for. Questions and answers that they were looking for.

“The question was really asked what was the budget for this particular project. When Governments, whether it’s our Government or a former Government, when we budget for things, road works fits under a particular category. That is road works throughout the island on the capital projects.

“It was budgeted for 2015/16, $5 million to that allocation so that any road works, capital road works in Bermuda would come out of that fund. That is the budget set for it. Asking the question is there a budget set for Black Watch Pass is a bit misleading because it falls under a broader category.

“Are there cost estimates however, which probably should’ve been the question in place. Obviously there are cost estimates that are in place, but that’s not what they were asking. So I can see how people were beginning to get confused.

“Certainly we are watching our dollars as we continue to do the work on Black Watch Pass. It will be finished in two weeks time. And as I stated, we have spent $700,000 odd thus far on Black Watch Pass. That’s where we are. We believe it will probably come in just under $1 million once it is completed, but I don’t have those final figures right now.

“The original plan took place in 2010, the plans that were drawn up. When those plans were drawn up at that particular time. obviously there were some thoughts as to cost estimates and what it would cost to do.

“As you go along with these projects many things can happen as you go along with a project like this. It was not known all of the wires and cables potentially that were under the ground. We know that we ran into difficulties with BELCO, them wanting to do some repair works as well. So all of these things added to some of the costs that are involved.

“I am happy to say that our team is really working well on Black Watch Pass. I’m happy to say that we’ll be finished, this project, as I’ve taken it on throughout this last 10 months, that it will come to completion.”

Shadow Minister Dennis Lister’s Comments

Speaking outside the House following the exchange in Parliament, Mr Lister told Bernews, “This morning in the question and answer period, questions were put to the Minister regarding the concerns of the development of Black Watch Pass roundabout.

“One of the questions that was simply put was can you tell us what the cost of the project was…what’s the estimated cost? The Minister stumbled in that he gave a cost for what they’ve spent thus far, but he could not give a cost as to what the estimate was.

“Everyone knows that in every project there’s a cost that’s estimated at what the project is going to take dollar-wise to get completed. The Minister’s response to say that there was no cost to this is a serious concern…

“There should always be a cost as to what the estimated value of that project would be and what the final cost is so you can determine whether we stayed on budget or went over budget.

“In these times that we’re talking about good governance and the proper use of financial instructions, it’s imperative that the Minister always, always have those type of financial restraints in place on any project so you know what your start figure is, and what your final figure is.

“So to say that there was no cost center to the project is just unacceptable,” added Mr Lister.

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Comments (45)

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  1. asampson says:

    This would almost be comical if it didn’t cost so much money.

    • hmmm says:

      Ultimately the project has cost too much, taken too long and some people in the Civil Service heads need to roll for such an abject failure.

      Please can those at the CIVIL Service be named, shamed and sacked.

      • Black Soil says:

        Hilarious that PLP are now soooo concerned about costs and meeting budget. I remember when they budgeted $60 million to build Berkerley and ultimately spent $120 million! I mean $120 million to build a school. A golden school rammed with favours!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • sage says:

          Well I am not PLP and I think it is a ridiculous waste of borrowed funds to fix something that wasn’t broken.

          • Zevon says:

            If you don’t agree with wasting borrowed funds on doing things that don’t need doing, a lot of people would agree. Let’s get rid of all the civil servants we don’t need. They’re being paid millions every month to do the paper equivalent of building expensive roundabouts.

        • Its me again says:


          Lets not discuss the actual issue at hand.

          Lets blame the PLP, its always their fault.

          Looks like thats working great for us now.

      • Its me again says:

        Sack Cannonier.

        Why should those under his command be fired?

        Sack the guy at the top and the next giy isnt going to allow the same mistakes to cost him his job

  2. Strike fund says:

    Surely the estimated cost should have been provided in 2010 if that’s when the original plans were drawn up.
    That said, CannonAIR should have current expenditure figures.

    Both parties are a joke.

  3. Whistling Frog says:

    Really? $5,000,000,000.00 to back fill and pave, move a wall and widen that small section of road? Really??

    • Whistling Frog says:

      My correction $1,000,000,000.00

      • Toodle-oo says:

        Are you aware that you initially claimed 5 Billion and then revised it to 1 Billion ?

        Do you know the difference between a million and a billion when asked to write it down in numerical form ?

        • Fundamentals says:

          @ Toodle-oo I suspect that Whistling Frog came from the PLP school of economics.

      • Juicy Onion says:

        W&E are one of the departments where we can clearly see waste and inefficiencies. W&E and Parks / AG & Fisheries are examples of departments where cost versus results is way clearly way off.

        The sidewalk alone that runs along the park took almost a year, the simple wall that ran along government house took almost another year. There is nothing technical or difficult about building a side walk and wall. A private company (even if owned by those same W&E would have taken half the time and cost far less. Anyone that has driven past this project on a daily basis knows that we the public are getting screwed. I blame the W&E management, the union, the government and the opposition for letting this happen. You have all “looked the other way” while we got screwed!

        • Its me again says:

          And you know this because your project management degree comes from…..?

  4. Triangle Drifter says:

    “The original plans were drawn up in 2010.” There you go. The root cause of the problem. Who was Minister at the time? Who drew up the plans? What were the estimates then? What took so long from plans drawn to work to start?

    Cannoniers mumblings & bumblings, if quotes are correct, don’t sound very reassuring at all. Like he is affraid to call out W&E people, from the top down on gross inefficiencies, but the wheels came off the tracks long ago & not much effort was made to get them back on track.

    Many people need to answer for this fiasco, not just the current Minister.

    • clearasmud says:

      When the government changed in 2012 we were told that they were. “looking under the hood” and would be reviewing all capital projects with a view to finding cost savings. Now the former Premier is saying that we in 2016 should rely on non existing cost estimates from 2010? Someone please explain to me why this gentleman was put back into a Cabinet position. What exactly does he bring to the table?

      • jt says:

        How many man hours and what % of the final cost was for labour?
        Budgeted = _______
        Actual = ________

      • hmmm says:

        Not a capital project is it.

        It’s an operational project

  5. Family Man says:

    Exhibit A in the case for privatizing W&E.

    Exhibit B would be the great never ending wall of Warwick

    • WarwickBoy says:

      Exhibit C would be the wall at the bottom of Burnt House Hill at St Anthony’s

      Exhibit D would the the South Road wall at the Paget Traffic Lights.

      Exhibit E would be the paving debacle on South Road Devonshire between Devonshire Bay and Collectors Hill.

      I am sure we could run through the alphabet with not too much trouble!

      • hmmm says:

        Exhibit F the decline in the quality of roads over the past 12 years. Potholes, cracks all over. Northshore road leading into Devonshire Dock is deadly.

        • hmmm says:

          Exhibit G …the swing bridge at Ferry Reach. (left to decay for years)

        • Toodle-oo says:

          Speaking of roads , how about Lighthouse Road ? The entire length from Waterlot on Middle Road to Henry VIII on South Shore is a disaster and has been for a long time . Awful for cars and deadly for bikers. Not to mention that it’s the route that 98% of tourists will take to get to Gibb’s Hill .

  6. mmm says:

    If the estimate for the Black Watch Pass roundabout is four years old, when one takes into account inflation, then perhaps the final cost is up by a third. Thus um hearing a figure of 700 thousand on the one end, and later a million. What delayed the project, any-way ? WE do not have 300 thousand to waste. Folks seem to shy away from giving correct information. Is it mere incompetence, or something else ? Surely those over-seeing the project have the figures, to provide to the Minister.

  7. Widget says:

    @Family Man

    Thanks for that. I was wondering when someone would mention the Great Wall of Warwick. Seems that wall took a 1000 days and a 1000 men to build is. What say you PLP?

    Minister Cannonair my well be the Minister of W&E but where is the responsibility and accountability of the W&E management and staff. Do they take any heat for the length and costs of this project? I say it starts and ends with them.

  8. Paradise Reclaimed says:

    The Blackwatch Pass problem was solved halfway through the project! No roundabout necessary!

    • Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

      I agree…its working just fine as is…that big curvature into the public park is a disgrace…waiting for the frequent accidents to start happening…whose brain fart was this..?

      • Juicy Onion says:

        I believe the idea behind the roundabout was to slow traffic down and prevent accidents. That long stretch that led up to the new roundabout was an accident waiting to happen. If you have tried to turn into or out of Cmart, the park, the road leading to government house, or the one of the neighboring homes, you would know why they had to do something….especially with two schools with inexperienced (and throttle happy) teenage riders using that road.

  9. Zevon says:

    Let’s investigate it thoroughly, with every aspect made public. We can do it as a double investigation, at the same time we investigate thoroughly why it cost $24.5m to returf a golf course.

  10. voltage says:

    There appears to be no project management skills displayed with this project and no overall strategy for Works and Engineering.

    It begs questions like: Why are we doing this? How valuable is this relative to other important projects – like cleaning up our Railway Trail, building quality Toilets and Showers in our Parks with Beaches, Cleaning up our Raw Sewage Discharge into our Sea and washing up regularly on our Public Beaches?

    More transparency would aid us all – what is the process for these decisions, who is making these decisions, approving the funding and staying on top of the implementation and spending?

    How can the local community participate in these decisions and not simply be observers to badly managed and very poorly communicated projects?

    Think Shelly Bay Beach, Botanical Gardens, and Black Watch Pass – the patterns emerging are not a compliment to political leadership or community engagement.

    • Juicy Onion says:

      I will say that I have seen W&E management there often over the last two weeks and things have been running along smoothly as they should have always been. Sadly, this has been the exception and not the rule regarding this project.

      Find one W&E project that finished on time, on budget and is an example of good work in last 30 years (UBP, PLP and OBA) and I will be shocked. These men have the skills, they have the tools …but they are human. If they are not encouraged to work , they won’t! I don’t blame them. W&E have a management team, politicians on both sides of the table, drive by an see these guys Watching & Earning, and the union leaders look the other way too.

      If this is the kind of work (or lack of) that we can expect when these projects go on, can you image what doesn’t go on when we can’t see.

      • Raymond Ray says:

        Well presented, “Juicy Onion”…
        “…If they are not encouraged to work, they won’t! I don’t blame them. W&E have a management team, politicians on both sides of the table, drive by an see these guys Watching & Earning, and the union leaders look the other way too”

  11. asampson says:

    Pretty hard to top the guy directing traffic on the swing bridge LAYING down other night.
    I guess the motto ‘never have so many done so little, for so long, for so much money’ is too long to put on the doors of the trucks.

    • Raymond Ray says:

      My wife and I saw him as well:-( What we’d found
      unacceptable is that the W & E Minister lives in St. Georges and must have seen the lazy S.O.B.!

  12. Navin Pooty Tang Johnson says:

    The reality is that W&E, like the rest of Government workers, could be serviced by half the people provided they were motivated…As it is now most jobs have and abundance of people and supervisors..go to the real world where skyscrapers are completed in less time than a simple wall…most of it seems to be make work projects.

  13. Coffee says:

    Everything Craig touches .. Well you know the rest !

    • Juicy Onion says:

      Hey Coffe, how much of our “missing” $800 million did you get to trash OBA and write prop PLP posts!

    • Widget says:


      Everything the former PLP MP’s touched.

      Well you know the rest.

      And we all know the rest as well. We have no money and we are up to our neck in debt.

  14. Boring says:

    And if cannonaire came out and said w&e were slow lazy etc. plp and union would be all over him. I’m sure there are those that do, but other than during hurricane clean up at triple overtime and the trash guys, I don’t think there are the majority of people in govt ‘service’ that could honestly swear to whatever God they believe in that they more often than not put in a solid hard working day, and there is nothing that cannonaire or the rest of govt can do about it.

    There is a little difference between this project taking too long and costing too much and letting private entities make millions on cost overrun projects, I’m not sure if some actually don’t understand the difference or choose to play ignorant and uninformed.

    Rant complete. Have a great Valentine’s Day. Don’t bother responding with a difference of opinion as I’m off to go wait in those traffic lights again.

  15. Columbus says:

    If only Public Works put a fraction of what it has cost for this project into maintaining the roads. Despite claims to the contrary, Public Works is doing a terrible job keeping Bermuda’s roads safe and drivable. Everytime it rains, potholes appear as if by magic. These potholes cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to our vehicles before they are filled by simply dumping some asphalt in the hole. These temporary fixes quickly breakdown and voila – another pothole. The mess that was caused when Public Works wasted time and money by incorrectly laying the asphalt by Devonshire Bay is a great example of ‘amateur hour’. In Bermuda we are paying about $7.55 for a gallon of gasoline despite the price of a barrel of oil being at a 12 year low. We pay 75% and 150% duty on cars all to have them ruined by driving on roads poorly maintained by a Goverment Department whose Minister does not reply to emails from members of the public.

    • shortcuts says:

      Did you try contacting the Highways Department? They have the remit to carry out the repairs. Try contacting the Permanent Secretary, Marva-Jean O’Brien. This is her responsibility.

  16. Bill says:

    Out on Harbour Road the other morning.Had to wait for a W&E truck, with a trailer, try to park.

    They then started to unload the trailer. You will never guess what were the first pieces of equipment they pulled out

    Wait for it…….!!!!

    4 deck chairs and two coolers

    I kid you not!

    Have a great Valentine’s Day!

  17. Building Bridges to Nowhere says:

    The Blackwatch Pass roundabout and the lost of the land at Duckingstool PARK was an exaggerated waste of money, time and taxpayers’ resources. WHO, I SAY, WHO is RESPONSIBLE for this blatant mess of civil engineering blunderings. I am sure the guys (minions) on the roadwork are not responsible for the design and multiple changes that have taken place over the last year.

    No roundabout was necessary from the beginning ONLY STOP SIGNS. Lost of Land, Park, Communting Time and materials. I am sure the STOP SIGN now being used now will create even more frustration until this roundabout is dumped onto the public. Drove by there today and wondered what they were thinking – It is SHAMEFUL !!! Drive by and make the observation for yourself.

    How dumb must the engineers be to demolish and ruin a park, create traffic confusion, take Government House land and then make the roads too narrow that you can not drive comforably on the road. Forbid you have a bus, truck or Big Mach container. A 90 degree turn to get onto Langton Hill – what pure nonsense and rubbish. My 4 year old daughter could do better than that with her LEGO set.

    A huge waste of our taxpaying dollars for someone to put this on their CV of accomplishments. Works and Engineering please clean house and get some competent staff or we will be faced with more of the same crap.

    INCOMPETENCE from the engineers, the design team and the overseers and they all should be FIRED. Wasting taxpayers dollars a day at a time when we CAN NOT AFFORD IT.

    Mr Minister, Stop this debacle before it goes any further and use some commonsense. The Team doing this job have no idea what they are doing. Period !




    • who cares most says:

      From what I’ve been told this project is under a foreign female.
      She and the Roads Engineer have no clue about what it takes to do road works. After listening (eaves dropping on a convo last week) it seems they don’t listen to staff hence sum of the delays
      The Minister need to have a meeting with lower paid staff and hear their concerns on this project.

  18. asampson says:

    I’m sure she had to modify her expectation based what she had to deal with.

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