General — 14 January 2011 — by Aaron Humes
The Social Investment Fund (SIF) has denied allegations of bias in its tendering process, after a group of approximately 100 building contractors and skilled construction personnel calling themselves the Concerned Builders of Dangriga (CBD) cried foul about the award of a contract for the Gulisi Community Pre-School in the Culture Capital to an “outsider,” building contractor Kennard Smart of Corozal Town.
Readers may recognize Smart’s name from our story in the mid-week Amandala about Sunday’s UDP convention in the Corozal Bay constituency, in which Smart ran last of three candidates. The convention was won by the incumbent and Minister of Health, Hon. Pablo Marin.
While Smart was not successful in his convention bid, he did win the bid to build the pre-school building – at the expense of the Dangriga contractors allied to Concerned Builders.
The group, six of whom held a short protest outside the Gulisi Monument on Tuesday, has maintained that SIF has been biased against them, and argue that the Government department ought to give greater consideration to local contractors in the interest of providing economic opportunities.
Group president Glenn Lewis told Amandala today that the group intends to continue to lobby for the Government to address their concerns.
SIF has stated that the bid submitted by Concerned Builders was incomplete and the figure they quoted was over by $20,000 the amount of funds made available to SIF for the project, some $400,000. The group argues that two Dangriga-based contractors not allied to them also bid over the mark and insists that matters could have been worked out. Nonetheless, Smart won with the lowest bid.
Smart has told reporters that he has sub-contracted a local contractor to handle the work and that jobs would be available, should they want them, to any member of Concerned Builders.
Lewis appeared to be non-committal when asked for his reaction; he told us that the greater concern is the “segregation” experienced by his group when bidding for contracts on projects in Dangriga.