Gov’t strengthens case against ADOMS contractor

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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

The government is said to be strengthening its case against Wendell Marshall, the former contractor for the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services (ADOMS) building.

Minister of Works Lennox Weston told OBSERVER media that Marshall had reportedly repurchased some of the materials under question.

“We found out that he went out and bought some of the materials that he was supposed to supply that were missing and we are now going through it to see if it matches what the order was,” he said.

The matter started when an audit revealed that ADOMS racked up a total expenditure of over $36.5 million, but the project remains unfinished.

Earlier, Weston, who is also the Minister of State in the Ministry of Finance, said that Marshall bilked the government of millions of dollars for an unfinished building.

“We are collecting our evidence and we will have an airtight case,” Weston said.

The ground breaking ceremony for the ADOMS headquarters took place in 2014, and at that time, officials said the construction of the three-storey building was supposed to be completed by May 2015 at a cost of $24 million.

Now, Weston said November 2019 is the new date for completion.

“We are not personalising the space for the new renters who will be coming in. Expect an opening ceremony in a few weeks, which will be tinged with a little bit of nostalgia because it has been so long,” he said.

In the investigative report, St Lucian auditor Ian F Harris disclosed that a building similar to ADOMS should have been completed within 18 months instead of taking more than five years to complete.

Additionally, Harris explained that lack of a finite budget and no construction schedule were among the inconsistencies noticed, and he further noted that the budget numbers in the construction manager’s reports were not backed up by calculations.

The auditor also said he believes that the project’s delays would have contributed to in excess of $5 million in bank charges and interest since the project began.

This was concretised when the report divulged that in one instance, one supplier in Florida was paid in excess of $9 million.

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