NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Contractors on Grand Bahama with post-Dorian cleanup contracts have been given a two-week timeline before their contracts are changed and new protocols are implemented.
Kay Forbes-Smith, Bahamas Disaster Reconstruction Authority Managing Director, told Eyewitness News Online that the authority met with more than 20 contractors in the Grand Bahama area on Monday to discuss the Hurricane Dorian contracts among other matters.
She noted that the same meeting will be held in the coming days for contractors on Abaco.
At the end of December, Forbes-Smith revealed that the authority was reviewing all of the storm contracts because it was not satisfied with the progress of the cleanup.
“The contractors who are currently doing the debris work in Grand Bahama were told that in two weeks the contracts would be changed to reflect what we think is a more equitable kind of contract for this kind of removal,” she said.
“We wanted to speak with them one-on-one so they had an idea of what the expectation was that was coming so that they are prepared.
“Some of the things we talked about is looking at the geographical area of Grand Bahama as a whole, trying to determine where the gaps are.”
Forbes-Smith said: “We talked about safety – the fact that a lot of trucks are on the road without the proper netting and so debris is flying all of the place and residents are complaining.
“We talked about the fact that we don’t see a lot of property, plant and equipment (PP&E) on this project and we talked a little about the insurance aspect and making sure business licenses were current and people were following some sort of safety protocol in their business.”
The contractors were advised that these matters among others, will be asked of them in a new contract.
“We wanted to give them some time so that they can digest and understand what the expectation is for the future,” she said.
Forbes-Smith underscored this exercise is not about taking contracts from people, but making sure that contracts issued by the authority “makes sense” and to ensure that the protocols that were not being adhered to are implemented.
However, she noted that contractors will be terminated if they don’t follow these procedures.
“If we are issuing contracts the expectation is that they will live up to the contracts,” she added.
“…This is like a new day and we need to make sure that we are getting valued for money.
“We are giving everybody an opportunity to understand what the expectations are and we expect people to live up to it because these are public funds, we are working in the interest of the people of The Bahamas and the government, and we need to be accountable”.
Dorian pounded the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama between September 1-3, claiming the lives of a confirmed 71 people — and displacing thousands.
In the aftermath of the storm the government commissioned several contractors to clear down the debris from the shantytowns.
The Ministry of the Environment’s Debris Management Plan has established a timeline of 180 days to the total removal of debris.
It estimates there was 1.09 million cubic yards of debris in the Abaco districts and another 2.09 million cubic yard of debris in Grand Bahama.
The authority recently held a three-day retreat to strategize key initiatives to ramp up operations on reconstruction efforts.