Report confirms failures in Heritage Wharf construction but leaves many questions
By Pat Gordon-Pamplin, Shadow Minister for Tourism and Transport, September 22, 2011
In July 2011, the Minister of Works & Engineering, in response to public pressure, advised the House of Assembly that engineers had been engaged to examine the damage to Heritage Wharf, and that we would be informed about the extent of the damage, the cost of remediation and whether there was a bond from the builders covering any faulty workmanship.
The report released today hardly satisfies the basic information that ought to be given to the public, let alone the Government’s specific promise to do so. An exercise to inform the public has become an exercise to withold information.
It must be remembered that Heritage Wharf, originally planned for $35M, came in at almost twice the price, and was defended by the Government as being the result of excellent work by the ‘expert’ contractor, Correia Construction.
Less than 2 years after its completion, the dock is falling apart, as implied in the Government’s one-page statement.
If one hurricane undermined the soundness of the structure, how can the Government be sure that the next blow will not totally dislodge the structure?
What is the extent to which the piles were sufficiently and appropriately driven to ensure that they will remain stable? It must be remembered that the expertise of the contractor appears to have been gained during the construction of this project. There is no evidence of prior wharfs being built by the contractor that would alleviate public concerns as to the stability of the wharf.
We can understand the Government not wanting to release the costs relating to remediation. They are likely to be severe and reflect badly on its management of the project. But this is a public project, involving public money and the public has a right to know what they are on the hook for.
The Government must have estimates. If the initial reports determined the extent of the damage, certainly they would have considered the costs to putting it right. The Government is putting protection of its own skin ahead of the public’s right to know.
The government needs to tell the people: Was money withheld from the contractor as a guarantee for the project? How much has been withheld? What are initial estimates of the cost of remediation? How can the government be sure the next hurricane will not see the dock floating off into the Great Sound?
The Minister should release the entire report and allow the people of Bermuda to determine how well their $68M was spent, what the likely further liability to the public purse is and what refund is available for offset to such expenditure.
The public is smart. Don’t treat them like mushrooms.