In a January 17, 2006 article, Barbados Free Press predicted that the cost of the ABC Flyovers would soar after a few as-yet-unannounced projects were added to the pie…
(Note for the future – the Government estimate for this one contract is US$60 million, but our sources tell us that the private number being tossed around is US$100 million: thought to be likely after a few more as-yet-unannounced projects are added to the pie. Remember when it happens – you read it here first.)
Barbados Free Press, January 17, 2006 "Prime Minister Owen Arthur Opens A New Can of Paint – To Cover Old Corruption."
Now just three months later, Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke is admitting that the previous estimates for the Barbados ABC Highway Flyover project were not exactly… (hmmm… what is the word? "accurate"? No… ah…) …"truthful".
Of course, Minister Clarke doesn't exactly put it that way in an interview with Donna Sealy of The Nation Newspaper. He makes it a little more palatable for the poor Bajan taxpayers who are going to have to pay for it all…
Noting that more meetings had to take place to determine the exact cost of the project, (Minister of Public Works Gline Clarke) said the $120 million figure given before was "a ballpark" one and the ministry would try to keep the cost down wherever possible.
"Ballpark"… Look out folks! That tax sandbag is swinging down to hit you upside of the head and to grab your wallet on the way past.
More Deceit – Original Flyover Project is Not What We Are Buying!
So how are we going to "keep the cost down"? Simple… instead of going ahead with the complete project for the original $60 million dollar estimate way back when, Barbados is only going to build part of the project – the "first phase" for $120 million dollars…
"We have tried to scale the cost down. We have agreed that we have to widen the highway first and we have agreed that in the first phase the road will be widened from Warrens to Norman Niles Roundabout and then to Cable & Wireless…"
And some locations that were originally slated for a new flyover are now just going to be widened…
And given the traffic that uses the area of Hothersal Turning, Clarke said the team was looking at widening this area "with the possibility of having a flyover at a later date".
Flyovers Ready for Cricket World Cup? Not A Chance…
Also interesting is the fact that all along, the Flyover project has been pushed as being necessary for the Cricket World Cup. So will the project be finished in time for CWC? Nope, not a chance. They won't even promise to have just the first flyover completed…
"We're hoping that while work is going on, the steel structures will go in. We're also hoping that one or two will go before the World Cup, but we can't say this definitively will happen…"
Now, here is the very best part…
Barbados won't even own the flyovers. We're Going to "Lease" the Highway That We Already Own Outright!
"The ministry is geared up, the machinery is in place. We've had several meetings which the Prime Minister [Owen Arthur] chaired. Cabinet has approved, even though we have to prepare a final agreement for after the lease."
The flyovers would be built under a build, own, lease and transfer (BOLT) arrangement, Clarke repeated, which would be for the design, construction and installation of overpass steel structures, the widening of highway and the introduction of a computerised central system.
Any Additional "Extra" Costs?
Ha Ha… Does the fish swim in the ocean? During the initial planning and cost estimates, apparently Minister Clarke just forgot about the Emancipation Statue that has been in the middle of a roundabout for 20 years.
What to do? What to do? Aha! We'll build a new park, move the statue there and call it "Emancipation Park". That should be good for another five or ten million or so.
It just never ends.
Tender? What Tender?
Back in October of 2005, Oliver Jackman of The Nation commented about the lack of tenders for the project…
“…there has been no official denial of allegations that the project was not put out to tender. If these allegations are accurate, there arises the question of the legal propriety of the ministry’s actions.”
Tenders, Mr. Jackman? Please…. this is Barbados. We don't have "tenders", we have "friends of the government".
Who will profit from the Great Flyover Tender Fraud of 2006? (as it will surely be written up in the history books in the future – right beside the GEMS Scandal…)
The Elites of Government and Friends of Government will profit.
3S Structural Steel Solutions LLC, of Maryland USA was awarded the major contract for the flyovers, but only on the basis that many Bajan companies will also get a piece of the pie. CO Williams Construction, Rayside Construction and other "friends" have been awarded the work on a "no tender" basis.
Oh well, you know how it is. After all, the homes of the C.O. Williams executives ("COW Williams" as the company is known to Bajans) just aren't big enough. For instance, here's the home of a COW executive. How anybody could live in such a hovel is beyond understanding…