Workers return to school sites

| 26/01/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman local news, Cayman education , new schools on Grand Cayman(CNS): Updated 10:50am. The Education Ministry announced this morning that work has now re-started at both school sites, and Alan Roffey of Caribbean Mechanical Ltd, one of the major sub-contractors on the site, has confirmed he received directions to return his men to the site following the announcement. Citing the need for urgent attention to preserve warranties and prevent deterioration, Rolston Anglin said the work was being supervised by the ministry’s project management team. The question of a general contractor has still not been resolved, but the minster said the project team will shortly be advertising for a tender for construction management services.

On Thursday the minister had stopped short of confirming the school development projects would be completed with local sub-contractor Caribbean Mechanical Ltd, but said it was very likely that the way forward for the stalled developments will be with a sub-contractor. In the latest release Anglin said the initial activity will see work re-start at both sites concentrating on roofing installations, exterior wall systems and mechanical and electrical.

"These works are necessary to preserve warranties and are critical with respect to mitigating costs going forward," he added explaining that the works will be supervised by the Ministry’s project management until a construction manger is secured through the tendering process.

Alan Roffey of Caribbean Mechanical Limited said on Monday he was unable to discuss the details of the negotiations with government but he confirmed that an agreement to move towards a contract was being discussed and he wanted to see his men back at work as soon as possible. The major subcontractor on the project, Roffey was forced to lay off almost one hundred workers when the original contract between Tom Jones International and the government broke down over what government says is a breech of that contract.

“We recognize the pressing need to get people back to work and to get the schools built for the sake of the people of the Cayman Islands,” Roffey said, adding that his firm still had outstanding legal issues with Tom Jones international, which he said had not made any payments to him since October.

The minister told CNS that he would be making a formal statement regarding the projects very soon but was committed to getting the schools built. He also observed that the problems over the school development projects had impacted various other developments in the ministry, in particular the full implementation of the Education Law.

There are however a number of new developmentscoming from the ministry, including the recent announcement defining the school catchment areas on Grand Cayman, which will come into effect in September, 2010 with the two “all-through” high schools catering to students from Years 7- 11 (ages 11 to 16). Students living at a physical address east of Spotts-Newlands road will be assigned to the new Clifton Hunter high school, which will initially be sited on the George Hicks site until the new school campus is ready. All Year 7-11 students living at a physical address west of Spotts-Newlands road will attend the John Gray campus.

The ministry said the school catchment areas are based on students’ physical home addresses. Chief Education Officer Shirley Wahler said the assignment would not be affected by the primary school previously attended. The Spotts-Newlands separation line for the high schools corresponds identically to the existing electoral district boundary between Bodden Town and George Town.

Anglin said in making this determination, the ministry had recognised the benefits of aligning the school catchment to the electoral districts, at least initially as these boundaries are well known and understood.   “As in all school systems catchment areas may need to be updated in future years if significant movement of the population causes the student numbers to change substantially,” he added. However, this catchment boundary represents the best balance for students at the present time.”

Wahler explained that students who will be in Year 12 as of September 2010 will not be allocated schools on the basis of their physical address. Instead the Year 12 Further Education Programme will see students from all districts coming together to participate in a range of new educational opportunities based at the George Hicks campus.

The decision on catchment is one of the many developments needed to take place to achieve the reorganisation of secondary education, Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues said. "The New Schools Transition Team is undertaking a mammoth task, with very tight timeframes, to ensure we do the necessary research, consultations, detailed planning and communications for a successful transition. I would like to acknowledge their efforts. This work is critical if we are to achieve our goal of better educational opportunities for our children," she stated.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Any normal government would of put the project as an PFI contract in the first instance. What were they thinking to have ever put themselves under such financial stress in the first place……and why the hell didn’t the government have a project manager in place from the start, instead the only representative on site at all times was unqualified and no experience of managing contractors, and had whose preivous highest position was a foreman of a small group of masons. Its just another instance of the government expecting everyone else to do the work and not taking the responsiblity of being an actual government seriously. The orginal contractor bent over backward to try and help and was taken for a ride, which seems to be the norm when people of lower intelligence see generousity, and the Cayman Compass didn’t help one bit, they did nothing but spin stories to always put Tom Jones in a bad light, if they had ever spend more an 5 minutes investigating they’d of seen that all corrispondence was public and that the government just didn’t pay. In the contract the "client" (Dept. of Ed.) has to provide proof of finances on the contractors request, this was requested 8 times and 8 times in was ignored.

    The island is in trouble, big trouble and the sooner the government start to realise that there are people in the world that are far smarter than them and that they start to eat humble pie and ask for help and not think nobody has a solution the sooner the island will be back on its feet. Cayman Government – you DO NOT know best, WAKE UP.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This entire situation is a disaster and I don’t have the answer. The PPM will have this albatross around their collective necks for years. This project is massive and to have it unsupervised from the start is beyond belief. You listen to the MLAs on the radio talking about this construction project as if it is a small problem involving almost an act of God beyond their control.

    Go out there and look at that job site and shake your head and wonder just what were they thinking?

  3. Alan Roffey says:

    It appears that this article may have given the impression that Caribbean Mechanical (High Schools 2008) Ltd. ("CMHSL") will be the General Contractor to complete the High Schools.

    That isn’t true.

    We are merely hoping to be able to complete the MEP works that we won by competitive tender early in 2008, and in doing so, put back to work our many knowledgeable and loyal employees, laid off because of the termination of Tom Jones International Limited ("TJI") by the Ministry, the majority of whom are Caymanian.

    The concept of re-employing the original sub-contractors that were working for TJI to complete the works is precisely intended to allow the Ministry to maintain the warranties of good materials and workmanship for the whole Works rather than lose that ability by employing new specialist trade subcontractors.

    Both the Ministry and ourselves recognize that a new General Contractor needs to be appointed to complete the civil works and coordinate the subcontractors however there are MEP works that can continue whilst that process is underway.

    These "zero restraint" tasks are the tasks that we are hoping to commence soon so that our work force can start earning wages again to pay their mortgages, rent, food and health bills etc.

    For those enquiring minds that want to know, CMHSL is a wholly owned subsidiary of Caribbean Mechanical Holding Co. Ltd. ("CMHCL") a Cayman Is. registered company incorporated in 2000 and owned 60% by myself and 40% by Colony Holdings Ltd. a Bermuda registered company.

    Amongst others, CMHCL also wholly owns Androgroup Ltd., a Cayman Is. registered company that has operated in these Islands since 1984, employing and training hundreds of Caymanians over the decades.

    None of these companies have, or have ever had, any affiliation with any political party although we have successfully worked with all of them before.

    With these projects in their current circumstances, when we are obliged to go to see our bankers, no one is smiling.


    • Pie Face says:

      Alan, I have to say that I never thought I would find myself agreeing with you, ever. There is still a big part of me that doesn’t want to, but, it would be nonsensical and I am guessing hugely expensive to turn the MEP works on these sites to another contractor, so I guess they might as well let you get on with it, this time.

      • Alan Roffey says:

        Thank you for your support Pie Face.

        Were we once married, or did we just date?

    • Anonymous says:

      Who is Colony Holdings??? Bermuda???

  4. Anonymous says:

    I cannot believe that this wasn’t even put our to tender. Here we go again…where is the transparency? There are a lot of construction firms out there that could have done this work.

    It is a downright shame what we have subjected ourselves to. Rolston, as far as I am concerned now you are no better than Alden.. This will come back to haunt you just like it did him.

    Alan Roffey is smiling all the way to the bank.. He had a slice of the pie and somehow talked Rolston into letting have the whole pie. Nothing good comes from greed …Remember the PPM.. Remember the PPM!!!


    • noname says:

      Here is a great example of being able to read words but not comprehend the meanings.  Go back to school and learn to play nice.

  5. Anonymous says:

    It would be very interesting to know who the "local" shareholders in this company Caribbean Mechanical Ltd are (never heard of ’em), but I can bet my bottom dollar that there is some connection with the UDP. 

    CNS, can you investigate if they are a newly formed company?  

    • anonymous says:

      Caribbean Mechanical was(is) a subcontractor with the TJ contract. They have done the MEP work to date. For Government not to continue to use them would be contractually silly….They were chosen as a part of the TJ contract by PPM.

  6. anonymous says:

    This will be the first major mistake of Rolston and UDP. This is not a simple little house that you can call up a few people and complete it. You cannot just have "subs working under a project manager".


    1. A single project manager cannot handle contracts worth over $120 million dollars. The government team will soon exceed 10 -15, maybe 20 persons for it to be done correctly. That will cost as these persons salaries are between $80,000- $120,000 per annum or more.


    2. The broken TJ contract will remain a liability to the Government. TJ will likely continue legal action.


    3. The subcontractors will not assume any liability for this past work. Even if something was done incorrectly, government will have to pay to correct it as those known ‘new subs’ will have a field day with extras.


    4. The original contract was clearly too low based on the other bidder’s price. The final cost will be 25-30% higher at best and may increase by up to 40%…..mark my words. 


    5. By removing TomJones, government has opened the door to having all earlier work avoid warranty.  TJ will get to walk from any warranty obligations unless they are documented at this stage (which takes time). Latent defects will now be governments liability.   No one will guarantee past works which also leaves PPM off the hook for their choice of contractor- Alden/Kurt must be laughing right now.


    6. This now becomes a UDP problem or solution and no longer a PPM screw up. This will be a poor political mistake by UDP.


    7.The schedule of construction is now at the discretion of the Ministry’s Project Manager. It will finish when it finishes and Government will not be able to hold anyone liable for completion dates.


    8. From what we have heard in media, the drawings have left open doors for changes and extras to be charged, ala TJ claims. Is government looking at retrieving some of that from the architects? Even though they are in Chicago they should be held accountable…. the claim that they caused the $17M in change claims should be clarified to the public….or was it Alden’s changes and lack of PM that did it. Enquiring minds want to know. Either case, continuing with only a PM and poor drawings leaves government completely open.


    The correct way to do this (if you were going to get rid of TJ, whom agree were playing politics with a contract that they could not afford to finish) was to hire another General Contractor to complete the buildings. That way most of the construction risks(completion time, liabilities, etc) will be covered by the new contract.


    I recommend that the Minister not follow what is suggested in this article but use its PM to coordinate a General Contractor who takes on the project. This will take some additional time to get going but removes the risks from Government that will only come back to bite Rolston at next election.   At worst case, hire a GC to project manage the subs to completion- they do it everyday and have teams/procedures in place immediately.  Anything less than that will be a huge disaster for Rolston and UDP.


    While the design of these schools was ridiculous and a huge error, I do offer best wishes completing them.


    PS; Rolston, on final thought, you should consider moving UCCI to the Frank sound campus which will leave it room to grow. At the moment it is landlocked, between a "hard place and a tropical forest", with nowhere to grow.  UCCI is a perfect Tech School location even having some of the mech/electrical labs and Hospitality kitchen in place.  Of course, It is also way easier to move the 50 high school students from EE and NS to town than moving the 800 kids in the other direction.


    • Anonymous says:

      "This will be the first major mistake of Rolston & the UDP"?????? Are you serious? Where have you been living? If you had left your comment at "Rolston" it would have been nearly true! But to add the UDP??? Are you serious??? I hope you have taken your head out of the sand for good this time.

    • Knal N. Domp says:

      1. Incorrect- If and when the project scope is clearly defined, a single experienced project manager (not construction manager) acting for UDP-CIG, can deal effectively with CI$120m+ projects. If the scope is loosely or inadequately defined and needs ‘on-the-fly’ clarification, then an expensive multi-person team would be required to crisis-manage the operation. There is no free lunch here.

      2. Correct, but TJ will be in litigation with PPM/UDP-CIG in any case, CG or CM method of project delivery notwithstanding. Choose the option that allows for more cost-effecive risk management. See Item 1 above.

      3. Correct, if they are not the original subcontractors. If they are, then their work remains warrantable (except for work executed by TJ ‘in connection with’- but that is a consequent risk that can be identified and managed).

      4. Correct. TJ’s bid price is a classic example of bidmanship by discounting base price and recouping lost turnover/profit by aggressive claimsmanship. UDP-CIG however can better manage cost overrun risk by CM (paid by fee) than a ‘closed-book’ contingent turnover/profit allocation buried in the new GC fixed-price.

      5. Correct, but the risk of defective work at the stage of completion (with the exception of the high-risk MEP, roofing and EIFS subcontractors) is low given that it is structural concrete work that was inspected by PPM-CIG agents and performance-tested to contract conditions. Removing TJ (who had abandoned the works in any case) will of course void any warranty but reverting to CM project delivery offers greater upside for cost- overrun containment than the latent risk of structural failure. The earthquake of Tuesday last has in any case rendered this moot.

      6. incorrect- under appropriate project management (on both GIG and CM parts) the project is rolled out on revised schedule and at an appropriate discount to revised budget, and to the credit of the UDP. PPM gets to carry the smelly albatross of a project gone bad on their watch, for the rest of time.

      7. Correct- but this would have been and was the case under TJ’s contract in that the completion date was set by PPM-CIG and bid for under that condition. Contract completion became at large when excessive change orders issued by PPM-CIG amended project scope, contract price and thus project completion. CM is to complete to revised contract to schedule agreed to by CM and PM for CIG. Tighter mutual control and management of the schedule (and any consequent delay mitigation) benefits GIG. See Item 1 above.

      8. Correct. There should be an enquiry (led by the AG?) into the circumstances and processes that led to the abysmal performance of the PPM-CIG in the initiation and execution of these two projects. However, if the UPP-CIG audits all documentation and tightens the work scope definition up to a standard that allows efficient bidding and project scheduling, there should be little or no risk of a repetition of the PPM-GIG’s hapless and foolish performance. There should be a law passed preventing Tibbetts, McLaughlin, McLean et al from spending taxpayer’s money in the (unlikely) event in the future they find themselves elected to public office.

  7. Oh no says:

    This is a recipe for disaster and spiralling costs now and in the future.