During the House of Assembly Sitting on 19 July it was disclosed that the Board of the BVI Ports Authority on separate occasions consented to unauthorized no-bid contracts that were given out by the former Acting Managing Director.
The details of the no bid, unauthorized contracts were provided during the 19 July sitting of the House of Assembly during the questions and answers segment between Leader of the Opposition Hon. Andrew Fahie and Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool.
In response to questions on the matter, the Minister told the House that the Acting Managing Director who held the post during the period of October 2017 approved two major contracts, which were not subjected to a bidding process. It was explained that the contracts were for works that were carried out on the Road Town ferry dock.
Hon. Vanterpool explained that the works on the ferry dock became necessary as a result of the damages caused by hurricane Irma. The Minister said that the Acting Managing Director felt it necessary to secure the building which was said to be vulnerable and exposed to weather, looting and other negative elements. The Minister further explained that concerns for the building resulted in the awarding of the contract to secure the building and the property.
However, the Leader of the Opposition was concerned that the project was not tendered. He announced: “something is wrong … I have two contractors that lately tendered on this project – lately – and they are claiming that they spent some heavy money on bonds and they did not know that the contracted works were being done until they passed the building.”
Hon. Fahie also rubbished the Minister’s explanation that the project was urgent. “This was long after Irma, so is the Minister telling me that a Director inside Ports issued a $400,000 plus contract by himself without the Board and then the Board went and ratified it and made wrong right,” Hon. Fahie declared.
Furthermore, the Leader of Opposition requested information as to why the Board of the BVI Ports Authority ratified the contracts, which he opined were not done in the appropriate manner. “The Acting Managing Director issued contracts without the Board’s approval and legal advice to the Board was that those contracts were deemed legal since the Managing Director was a signatory to the Board…So legally they were advised that the contract was legal and therefore the Board ratified this contract because it was legal,” Hon. Vanterpool stated.
It was also disclosed during the questions and answers that this was not the first occurrence of unauthorized contract awarding at the BVI Ports Authority. In making the disclosure Hon. Vanterpool said. “In terms of clear transparency a contract similar to this was awarded to the total of $2.1M…the Board ratified that.”