Prime Minister Browne calls out Bass

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has called for former chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Department of Marine Services and Merchant Shipping (ADOMS) board, Henderson Bass, to give account for excessive spending on construction of the proposed Factory Road headquarters of the department. now infamous facility.
“You may want to call Mr. Henderson Bass who had the audacity to trash me on your radio programme with Serpent just about two weeks ago,” the prime minister told OBSERVER media yesterday. “I want to know what he has to say about the little two feet or three feet wall that is about 120 ft long which was built for an additional cost of $300,000.”
Browne added that he would also like to know what Bass has to say about the additional cost of $3 million for some additional wall that was put in the building and the many other excesses. He said that these are the things that Bass should come and tell the public about.
Bass called into OBSERVER Radio’s Snakepit programme some time ago and defended the board’s decision not to terminate Marshall. He said, all of the requests for additional funding made by Marshall had to be approved by the 5-member board and therefore firing Marshall would be unfair.
According to Wednesday’s Cabinet notes, an expert delivered a preliminary report to Cabinet regarding the cost overruns of the project. The notes revealed that the evidence unearthed thus far indicates that the contractor who was selected by the Tenders Board to complete the building was unlawfully displaced by an unauthorised contractor, and payments were made surreptitiously to this firm.
The notes also disclosed that there was seemingly included in the terms of the Project Manager’s employment a 5 percent increase in payments to that manager, as measured against the cost increase; the manager therefore was given an incentive to cause cost increases. The cost which was assessed against several changes made by the manager also seemed highly inflated, by construction standards. The investigative team will inquire into these suspected anomalies and others.
The probe was announced following public outcry over the massive cost overruns associated with the ADOMS building project and the constant pushing back of the completion date. The matter created a firestorm when it was reported by the Cabinet that the building that was initially projected to cost $17 million had actually cost the government roughly $30 million with additional funds being requested for its completion.
Since the revelation of the almost $14 million in cost overruns, the project manager was told his services were no longer required when his month-to-month contract ended on July 31 even as the project remains incomplete.

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