Chinese firm wins TT$500m UWI contract, local contractors upset

(Trinidad Express) Former president of the Trinidad and Tobago Contractors Association (TTCA) Mikey Joseph said it is “surprising” and “appalling” that the University of the West Indies (UWI) approved a TT$500 million contract to build the South campus to a Chinese company with a poor track record.

UWI in a press release yesterday announced that China Jiangsu International Economic Co-operation Corp (CJI) won the bid for the design/build of the campus in Penal/Debe.

The university reported that CJI was one of seven pre-qualified applicants and one of four which submitted tenders. UWI noted that CJI’s successful tender was worth TT$499,513,631.81 compared to the three nearest bids TT$769,934,445.50, $770,585,965.60 and TT$1,006,795,567.86. The invitation for tender was issued on December 8, 2011.

UWI stated, “The submitted tenders were evaluated and ultimately scored over a lengthy period. UWI has noted the public discussion surrounding this tender and reaffirms that all proper procedures were adhered to.”

Joseph said he was “totally disappointed” that despite the best efforts of the TTCA to show the poor performance of CJI, the university went ahead with the award, a decision that is “not in the national best interest”.

The TTCA in a statement last month objected to CJI receiving the award stating that local contractors must be given preference over foreign contractors and Government had made many promises to the local construction industry that preference and inclusion in their development projects would be forthcoming.

Joseph said local contractors were unhappy with the tendering process for the UWI South Campus and they believe it was not set up in accordance with best international practice.

“It left it open for someone who is a poor performer and a history of poor execution of projects to enter and still be selected,” he added.

Joseph said the bidder with the lowest technical score would win the project to design and build the campus because they had the lowest price, but low technical ability also meant “a substandard product”.

He noted that CJI had been involved in this country in the building of several schools, the University of Trinidad and Tobago Campus at Tamana and the eTeck Flagship building in Tamana, “none of which were on time, within budget or quality (work)”.

UWI in the release reported that the project will be managed by the contracted project managers Acuitas Caribbean Ltd under the guidance of the campus projects office of UWI, and CJI had identified CO-RD Ltd, CEP Ltd and RAMPS Engineering Services Ltd as the members of the design/build project team.

UWI noted that the campus, announced by Government last year, is part of the regional strategic plan “to expand the university so as to better serve its communities”.

The UWI South campus was officially launched on February 24 last year and 100 acres of Caroni (1975) Ltd land near the Debe High School and bordered by the SS Erin Road and the M-2 Ring Road was approved by Cabinet for the construction. The sod turning ceremony took place in January.


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