Failure to meet Consolidated Contractors Company (CCC) financial requirement is the latest reason given by the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government for the delay in getting major road construction work started in Grenada.
After months of promises that all is well and a grand sod-turning ceremony to mark the commencement of the Second Phase of Agricultural Feeder Road Project in Projects in Mama Cannes/Grand Bacolet, St Andrew on May 21, the promised major work to be undertaken by the controversial company is yet to materialise.
Addressing a recent post-Cabinet briefing, Minister for Works, Gregory Bowen told the media, “I know that they ((CCC) want to spread their wings, but something was done that prevented them from getting the advanced payment’, to start the work on the island.
‘….I believe within a week or two an advancement … as much as 20% of the contract price, contract price is $45 million (will be given to CCC) so even 20% could be $9 million in that vicinity”, he told reporters.
According to Minister Bowen, CCC is currently engaged in work in the St David’s area out of their own pocket while they await payment to begin major works.
Earlier this year, the senior government minister disclosed to the Grenadian people that extensive work was being carried out at the Quarry plant (Asphalt and Crushing at Mt. Hartman) in the south of the island was necessary and contributed to the delay in the CCC work programme.
Bowen also blamed the ‘unceremonious dismissal’ of CCC under the tenure of former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas, for the vandalism of the Mt Hartman facilities.
He said that these facilities are required to complete phase one of the roads projects that is the base and sub-base of the roads that cannot be undertaken without aggregates.
He told the media that 166 drums of asphalt were ordered and presently on the island and as such cold-mix works can be undertaken although this do not work well in the rainy season, but the asphalt plant in needed to produce the hot mix which is what is required for a lasting road work.
More than one month later the NNP regime was again forced to defend the CCC’s inability to start the project.
This time the excuse came from Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Business, Nicholas Steele who said that the company from the Middle East needs to secure a license from Government to operate the Mt Hartman Quarry.
Steele told the media that the former Congress government made some changes regarding to the Quarry in particular to the Central Garage where the company operated from and as a result the onus is now on his administration to make adjustments to enable to start of the project as soon as possible.
He said that the Tillman Thomas–led government made some investments in the National Solid Waste Company, which now has to be rectified to enable CCC to work in that facility.
When the NNP administration was re-elected into office following the February 19, General Election the Parliamentary Secretary for Information, Senator Winston Garraway boasted that the government had paid millions of dollars in outstanding debts including more than $10 million to get the controversial CCC Feeder Road Project back after the company encountered problems with the previous government.
Garraway announced that $3 million was paid to the Kuwait Fund, $5 million in arrears to CCC and $1.2 million to DIWI Consultant to ensure that the second phase of the Agricultural Feeder Road Project began.
The new rulers disclosed that the Kuwaiti Fund had suspended disbursement of funds to Grenada since last year February, after the NDC Government failed to make overdue payments on four loans.
Bowen said, that the government had since entered into a new agreement with the Kuwaiti Fund, which allows CCC to resume operations in April.
Bowen pointed out, that under the new agreement, Government must make a $1 million payment to the Fund and a series of scheduled payments to wipe out the EC$11 million in arrears.
The works minister said that Government had also agreed on a schedule to pay CCC half-a million dollars a month, and that he was happy they were resuming operations, without a total pay-off to CCC.