By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) yesterday hosted a press conference at its Waterloo Street office to bring the media up to date on a number of topical issues of interest to the Chamber.
At that forum, GCCI’s President Deodat Indar made known the Chamber’s call for a national database containing information of ongoing contracts and the contractors executing such.
Indar said that GCCI recently met with Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson. He said that the discussions were fruitful.
Among the topics discussed were the issues surrounding weak infrastructural works being executed by some contractors. Also, the GCCI pointed to the fact that there are some contractors who seem to be hoarding contracts and as a result find themselves in positions where they become incapable of effectively carrying out the works for which they are being paid.
Indar said, “There was some frank discussion in terms of refurbishing of roads and when you go back a month after only to see the same holes that were there before or even bigger ones.”
Indar said that Patterson admitted that the issue raised has been proven perennial and that the fight to address this issue will continue.
“Also raised was the issue of overloading a single contractor with four to five contracts and they cannot execute them to the required level of quality,” said Indar. According to the GCCI President, Minister Patterson said that there will be more monitoring in this regard.
“But a national system is required because they (contractors) get contracts from NPTAB and they go to the other Ministries as well.” He said that in cases like these where contracts are secured through both avenues it becomes difficult to track.
“We need a national database to monitor what is going on (with infrastructural construction) cross the country and to understand if someone is overloaded and do not have the resources to finish the works.”
Indar said that because of “overloading” there have been several delays in infrastructural projects. He noted that these delays may have several social and financial connotations.
Indar said that after GCCI’s members brought up the issue, Minister Patterson indicated that he has a spreadsheet at his Ministry that looks at all of the contractors with details of the state of each. He said that that is when the Chamber suggested a broader view on the matter so that other Ministries will have the same level of scrutiny.
“That is how he manages his Ministry. But you cannot have tunnel vision with this thing. So he has his Ministry covered but what about the contractors who may go to the Ministry of Communities of the Ministry of Education? Those same contracts get jobs there too; so how will he know about those others.
“And remember, different ministries have different mandates. Some do not look at what is going on with the kind of microscope that the Ministry of Infrastructure would look at it. So there needs to be a national structure or databases to track the project.”
Indar said that the database should be so designed to keep track of companies that may guise under various names.
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