State to pay contractor $1.5m for ‘unauthorised’ work

The Min­istry of Works and Trans­port has been or­dered to pay al­most $1.5 mil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion to a con­trac­tor from San­gre Grande, who car­ried out paving works in east Trinidad in 2011 with­out a writ­ten con­tract with the min­istry. 

De­liv­er­ing a judge­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, on Mon­day, High Court Judge James Aboud ruled in favour of  East­ern En­gi­neer­ing and Mar­ket­ing Ser­vices.

Aboud ruled some se­nior min­istry of­fi­cials have im­plied, in­her­ent and dis­cre­tionary pow­ers to award con­tracts with­out a com­pet­i­tive ten­der in emer­gency sit­u­a­tions. 

Aboud ruled that the State had failed to call rel­e­vant wit­ness­es who could as­sist him in de­ter­min­ing whether there was a le­git­i­mate ex­er­cise of such dis­cre­tion. 

Aboud al­so ruled that there was no ev­i­dence for him to find that there was fraud or col­lu­sion in the work and that the com­pa­ny was en­ti­tled to resti­tu­tion as the work claimed had been com­plet­ed. 

The law­suit cen­tred around work the com­pa­ny per­formed to re­pair and pave San­gre Grande Junc­tion Road, Quare Road, Tu­rure Road, To­co Road, and Paria Road.

The work was es­ti­mat­ed to cost $299,345 per road and to­talled $1,496,725.

The com­pa­ny sub­mit­ted its in­voic­es up­on com­ple­tion but were forced to file the law­suit af­ter the min­istry re­peat­ed­ly re­fused to pay. 

In its de­fence to the claim, the min­istry claimed that al­though the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary of the min­istry is en­ti­tled to award emer­gency con­tracts that do not ex­ceed $1 mil­lion, the work per­formed by the com­pa­ny was ap­proved by an­oth­er em­ploy­ee. 

It al­so al­leged that the em­ploy­ee en­gaged the com­pa­ny with­out the ap­proval of the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary. 

“The con­tracts were award­ed with­out the knowl­edge of the per­ma­nent sec­re­tary and no ef­fort was ever made to bring this mat­ter to her at­ten­tion,” the min­istry’s lawyers said in its de­fence. 

State at­tor­neys had al­so claimed that the case should be dis­missed as it would set a “dan­ger­ous prece­dent” un­der which the gov­ern­ment would be ob­lig­at­ed to pay for goods and ser­vices that were il­le­gal­ly pro­cured. It is like­ly that the State would now ap­peal the judge­ment. 

The com­pa­ny was rep­re­sent­ed by Kelvin Ramkissoon, Leon Kalicha­ran, Reynold Wal­dropt, and Jeron Joseph.

---

Story by: DEREK ACHONG

Category: 
Like count ids: 
,183630
like count: 
1