By Latrishka Thomas
The completion of the building to house the offices of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) took a back seat to other projects being developed by the government this year, and noting all of the difficulties encountered in trying to finish the facility, the Minister of Works said he believes that the government was exploited and may have reason to seek legal action.
“I am not no lawyer but we are going to ask our AG. Our accountants went through it [and] I think there is a case to be made that not only was there oversight by the body who was managing it, the project manager clearly did not give us value for money. But we are fixing it but we had to do it within the legal guidelines which, of course, slowed us down.
“We couldn’t just tell the contractor to go and start, we had to go through the legal process – Tenders Board and so on — but we are on a path where we are hoping to bring that home in a very short while,” Minister of Works Lennox Weston said during an interview with OBSERVER media.
“ADOMS had a complex award through the Tenders Board and the project manager without going into any legal issues, he essentially fired the contractors and took over so we had to go back through a tendering process; fix the legal issues,” he added.
However, the minister said that the contractor is expected to complete the project before the end of the year.
“Now, the electrical part is finished, the main contractor will complete it very shortly; he’s back on the job and he tells us within the next two months or so he will complete it.”
In 2018, work on the final stage of the ADOMS building was halted as the government placed more emphasis on other undertakings they deemed more pressing.
The Cabinet decided to dissolve the ADOMS Board and halt construction in August 2018 and the burden of assessing the facility and finishing the job was placed on the Department of Public Works.
However, the building remains incomplete and up to October 2018 it was reported that the actual cost of the building was approximately $30 million.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the ADOMS headquarters took place in 2014 and at that time, officials said the construction on the new three-storey building was supposed to be completed by May 2015 at a cost of $24 million.