Minister of Public Works Desmond Bannister told contractors in Grand Bahama that the construction industry is facing many challenges.
He said the two most pressing of those challenges are the commencement of the enforcement of the Construction Contractor’s Act and the issue of E-procurement, a new procedure recently launched by the Ministry of Finance.
“Getting a contract from the government is not going to be an automatic thing,” Bannister said.
“There are certain procedures that are being put in place and which will have to be followed.
“Those contractors who decided not to show up to this seminar will miss out on some very important information which will be needed as we move forward.”
The Minister officially opened the Contractor’s Seminar, on Thursday at the Church of the Ascension Hall. The event was held by the Ministry of Public Works and was designed to update Grand Bahamian contractors on some of the new procedures set to be implemented by the ministry.
Topics covered during the seminar included pre-qualification documents and assessment criteria, the Construction Contractor’s Act, contract pricing and payment procedures, project management and site safety and E-procurement.
While he thanked those in attendance, he expressed disappointment in what he called a “poor showing” for Grand Bahama.
“We are introducing new procedures to the Ministry of Public Works, including our pre-qualification process and no one should take it for granted that they are going to get work from the Ministry of Public Works,” he said.
“All of you would be given a pre-qualification form and it will be important for each of you to pre-qualify. It is going to be a new era of transparency in how we do work. The world is changing so the information that we will be disseminating in this seminar will be very important.”
Bannister told the contractors that the success of the Ministry of Public Works is very much in the hands of the private sector, as the government seeks to develop the building environment in the country.
“What I have found since coming to the ministry is that many contractors do not use the services of a quantity surveyor and often rely on their experiences to calculate and tender prices, which often leads to a wide range of prices coming into the Ministry of Public Works,” he noted.
“I have seen this too often, where someone comes in too low and someone comes in too high. Quantity Surveyors at my Ministry are working to develop standards to help contractors. In doing that we plan to bring uniformity to our pricing structure.”
Bannister pointed out that he is well aware that there are contractors who have their personal horror stories of trying to get paid in a timely fashion from the Ministry of Public Works for works that have already been completed.
He said the session on payment procedures was designed to give local contractors valuable insight on all of the information that is required when an invoice is submitted, so as to minimize the amount of time it takes for them to be paid.
“But I am not going to pretend that all of the problems are with the contractors,” he said.
“Some of the delays in payment are within the Ministry. I say we have to do a better job because when people work, they would like to be paid.
“So, it is very important that you, as the contractor, do your part and it is very important that we in the Ministry do our part.”
Bannister said that the Ministry of Public Works, in collaboration with the Department of Information Technology is in the process of updating the Contractor’s Database and also the Tendering and payment certificate process.
He said that in order to provide transparency and fair opportunity for all who participate in the government Capitol Works program, it is absolutely imperative that the database of qualified contractors be brought up to date.
“This is the digital age and times have changed,” he said.
“You are in a totally new age for your profession. Contractors who do not keep up with the times, will likely be left out of many of the opportunities that will be advertised on Government websites.
“Contractors are being encouraged to take advantage of the many educational opportunities available locally, overseas and on the internet, to delve deeply into the art and science of project management. It is only then you can realize the type of profits that you need to realize, without skipping on the works and to enable your business to grow.”
The Minister of Public Works told the Grand Bahama Contractors that the Ministry is in the process of tendering two major projects in Freeport – the total renovation of the Garnet Levarity Building and the Freeport Post Office.
“Those works will generate work among selected main contractors and many sub-contractors in specialist trades, as the scope includes special roof repairs, air conditioning, electrical and plumbing replacement, exterior and interior finishes, window repair and replacement and more,” he noted.
“The Ministry of Public Works is going to change in the way that it is focused in serving our constituents and in this case our constituents are contractors. We are committed to giving service, but we are also committed to enforcing the standards which the Bahamian people hired us to enforce when we spend their money.”
This article was provided by Bahamas Information Services.