ADOMS chairman mum

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The Chairman of the Board of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services (ADOMS), is staying silent after Prime Minister Gaston Browne made an indirect call for him to fire the project manager of the unfinished building which will serve as the agency’s new headquarters.
The building, which is located on Factory Road, has been plagued with continuous delays and significant cost overruns, according to the government.
Over the weekend, Browne, who is also Finance Minister, declared that he would not approve any more funds for the project until the project manager, Wendell Marshall, is dismissed.
Henderson Bass, under whose responsibility the board falls, told OBSERVER media on Sunday that, while he has some concerns, he is not yet ready to make a public statement. Marshall, who is also at the centre of the matter, declined comment when he was contacted by this media house yesterday.
During the Cabinet press conference last week, government’s Chief of Staff, Lionel “Max” Hurst pointed out that nearly $30 million has been spent on the building when the initial cost was supposed to be $17 million. It was also outlined that a request had been made to the Cabinet for approval of an additional $1 million to complete the project.
However, speaking on his own radio station on Saturday, PM Browne was adamant that the additional funds would only be approved under one condition. He also used some very strong adjectives to describe Marshall’s character and his ability to get the job done.
“Wendell Marshall must be fired in the public’s interest. I don’t want to hear anything from no board or no management. I told Dwight Gardiner, up to today [Saturday] that he has to be fired.
“I advised the board members a year ago, to fire this man. I used certain adjectives to describe him and I am quite sure I was spot-on. I urged them to fire him and they have refused to do so. At that time, they were going to the bank for the second time for an increase to finish the building,” Browne said.
The prime minister also stated that while members of the ADOMS board were able to get the approval of Cabinet for another $2 million to finish the project, he would not sign any document until his conditions are met.
The nation’s leader was also supportive of a call for an audit on the ADOMS project.
A week ago, Information Minister Melford Nicholas, hinted that an audit would be necessary to determine if anything untoward was responsible for the inflated cost of the building.
However, the opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has labelled this as “laughable.”
The groundbreaking for the project was in 2013 under the UPP which was in power at the time but was defeated at the polls in June 2014. The project was supposed to span two years.

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