Arbitration on the future of the road works completion has been pushed back to mid-January, a little over one year after an adjudicator was selected to preside over a dispute between Bahamas Hot Mix (BHM) and the government of Antigua and Barbuda.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda and BHM are in arbitration over whether the company’s request for more time and money to complete the road rehabilitation project is justified, or whether, according to the Weston, the delays were BHM’s fault and therefore no remuneration would be required on the part of the government.
BHM was awarded the contract for Friars Hill Road and the Sir George Walter Highway during the first quarter of 2017, with the expectation that work would be completed in less than two years.
The roadwork was expected to begin on September 27th, 2017 and last for 20 months, according to the contract award information published by caribank.org – Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
However, there were delays which the construction company reportedly said were caused by the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) because they took an additional nine months to bury utility lines.
Minister of Works Lennox Weston protested that BHM could have started its work from the end where APUA had already completed burying the lines, instead of waiting for everything to be finished.
This resulted in an arbitration requested by BHM, which Weston explained that it was expected to end in November but when it was time for the adjudicator to return with a ruling, BHM put in a submission to ask for additional time for counter-arguments. Now, a settlement is expected to be reached some time in January 2020.
Weston, who once threatened to fire BHM if roadwork was not completed by December 2019, is now revealing that it would not be a good idea.
“We have had discussions with the Caribbean Development Bank in terms of what will happen if we ever decide to fire them. The Caribbean Development Bank has said that we’ll have to go back to tender, open tender, and that process will take three to four months to get a new contractor in place, and so in the end, we’ll have to make an assessment at the end of December as to if they’re three months away from finishing or more than 3 months,” the minister explained.
On the other hand, Weston also shared that he has not had a change of heart as it relates to suing BHM for nonpayment.
“We will be moving to put a lawsuit on them for over $10 million for aggregates. They haven’t paid us a cent yet for all the aggregates they have taken from us,” he shared.