ADOMS manager’s resignation ‘false’ , PM Browne tells board fire him or resign

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After Wendell Marshall’s fierce denial of reports that he resigned as the ADOMS project and construction manager, Gaston Browne, Prime Minister has declared that if the ADOMS board does not fire him, its members must resign themselves.
“They are duty bound to resign,” the prime minister wrote in a statement on Thursday evening. He was responding to an OBSERVER media reporter’s request for comment.
The ultimatum to the board of ADOMS – Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping – came after Marshall, the project and construction manager for the incomplete, multi-million dollar, three-story new ADOMS headquarters on Factory Road, categorically denied reports that he had, himself resigned.
The first of those reports was made by Lionel “Max” Hurst, the government’s Chief of Staff who wrote in his post-Cabinet press notes on Wednesday evening that “the [ADOMS] construction manager has offered to resign” and “the board will accept [the] resignation.”
According to what Hurst wrote, the information originally came from the prime minister who relayed it to the Cabinet on Wednesday after he had met with the ADOMS board earlier this week.
In a follow up discussion Wednesday night, he confirmed to OBSERVER media that his notes referred to Marshall.
The embattled manager phoned the OBSERVER newsroom on Thursday morning sounding incensed. By then, Hurst’s Wednesday evening report of the alleged resignation had made the news. However, Marshall said he had not written or tendered any resignation letter to the board and firmly declared, “I don’t intend to resign.”
Browne has since accused Marshall of offering his resignation and then “reneging.”
Even as Marshall spoke to OBSERVER media on Thursday morning, E.P. Chet Greene, minister of Foreign Affairs was telling the nation at the post Cabinet press briefing that the embattled project and construction manager had resigned.
“The meeting [between the prime minister and the ADOMS board] informed that the manager offered his resignation which the board accepted,” Greene said, going so far as to commend Marshall for “accepting responsibility” and deciding to “step aside”.
When he spoke to OBSERVER media, Marshall said the board “had a meeting with the prime minister” but insisted that he “had not spoken to them since then.”
Last Saturday, the prime minister publicly demanded that the ADOMS board, chaired by Henderson Bass, immediately fires Marshall “in the public interest.”
He blamed Marshall for what the government has reported are significant delays and cost overruns incurred during the yet-to-be completed ADOMS project’s life since breaking ground in 2012 and beginning construction in 2014.
Browne said then that he would not entertain any discussion with the board about retaining the project and construction manager and that he would ensure that no further funds are available to ADOMS for the completion of the new headquarters until Marshall was sacked.
Bass, yesterday declined to comment on the debacle of Marshall’s falsely reported resignation.
Yesterday too, the prime minister said, “I maintain my position,” insisting that “not one additional red cent of tax payers money” would be spent on the project until Marshall was “removed voluntarily or otherwise.”
In May 2014, officials said construction on the new three-story ADOMS headquarters was supposed to be complete by May 2015, construction having begun in March 2014. However, up to last week a request was reportedly made to the Cabinet for the approval of additional funds to complete the structure.
In May 2014 officials said the estimated cost of the project was $23 million but since 2017 alternative figures have been released at post-Cabinet press conferences. At a press conference in September 2017 it was reported that the initial cost estimate was $25 million and the actual cost was approaching $33 million.
Then at a press conference in October 2017, it was reported that the estimated cost of the building was $17 million and the actual cost had exceeded $25 million. Again, the figures changed dramatically at a press conference this month, as it was reported that while the initial estimated cost was $17 million the actual cost was approaching $30 million.
Browne, who is the minister responsible for ADOMS and for Corporate Governance has never committed to having an audit or a report commissioned into the project to identify the deficiencies in its management and execution. However, last Saturday whilst criticising Marshall’s stewardship of the project he said he was not opposed to such an audit or report.
Meanwhile, the minister of foreign affairs, Greene, has defended the prime minister from criticisms he received over his recent handling of the ADOMS project from Anthony Stuart, spokesperson on Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Governance for the Democratic National Alliance (DNA).
While Stuart said Browne had initially ignored the board in order to target the manager and should rather hold the board accountable, Greene said that the ADOMS board’s purview is marine services and ship registration and not construction particulars.
“Could we call the board and ask them how many pounds of nails they bought and whether they purchased too many or whether they bought too much concrete? C’mon, that’s not the board’s function,” Greene said.
This of course was before Browne issued the ultimatum to the ADOMS board to take responsibility for Marshall’s removal.

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