Archive for July 9th, 2012

Government road boss fired

Government road boss fired

| 09/07/2012 | 134 Comments

rr21 (252x300).jpg(CNS): Government admitted Monday that Brian Tomlinson, the director of the National Roads Authority, is no longer employed by the government company. Officials have not said that he was dismissed but sources have told CNS that Tomlinson was informed that he was being let go as the authority was “downsizing”. It is understood that the former head of the roads authority was, however, paid to the end of his contract. The NRA boss recently ordered the seizure of a controversial shipment of 32 tonnes of dynamite that came into Cayman earlier this year without the correct paperwork, which has triggered a police investigation involving the premier and the private sector firm, Midland Acres.

According to a release from the NRA on Monday, the Board of Directors said Tomlinson's employment with the NRA had ended 29 June and Deputy Managing Director Edward Howard had been appointed acting managing director, with Paul Parchment acting as deputy.

No reason was given in the release as to why Tomlinson, who had been NRA managing director for almost five years, had been let go. Board chair Colford Scott thanked him for representing the NRA at all levels and wished him the best in any future endeavours undertaken.

Sources tell CNS that Scott was the person who wrote to Tomlinson to inform him that he was being let go as a result, allegedly, of downsizing at the government-owned entity and had nothing to do with his performance as the NRA director. However, it is understood that the former director was paid his full contract salary until the end of this year.

Tomlinson’s district MLA, Ezzard Miller, the independent member for North Side, said he was very concerned about how his constituent had been treated and said he hoped that this had nothing to dowith the recent issues regarding the shipment of dynamite.

“If this is not about performance, as I understand was stated in the correspondence my constituent received, and as a result of cuts, it is highly unusual to sack the chief officer when his performance is not in question,” Miller said.

“If government is doing this to save money, one has to question why they would seek to let a senior official go but pay his salary until the end of his contract and not ask him to work it out. I seriously hope this has nothing to do with the fact that Mr Tomlinson enforced the law in relation to the recent illegal shipment of dynamite, which is now the subject of one of three police investigations into the premier,” the MLA added.

CNS has tried to contact Tomlinson and questions have also been sent to the ministry, the board chair and the deputy governor’s office regarding the removal of Tomlinson from his post but so far none of the parties have responded.

Continue Reading

Young local sailors to compete in BVI cup

Young local sailors to compete in BVI cup

| 09/07/2012 | 0 Comments

The squad training (279x300).jpg(CISA): Five youth sailors will be representing Cayman in the Premier’s Cup regatta in Tortola, BVI. The regatta runs from 13-15 July. The Premier’s Cup event was started in 1998 and was the first Youth Team Sailing Regatta in the Caribbean.  This annual regatta is organised by the joint Rotary Clubs of BVI and “Kids And The Sea” (KATS). The Rotary Club of Grand Cayman has given generous support to our team by covering the cost of their flights to the regatta. The sailors representing Cayman are Pablo Bertran, Florence Allan, Ronan Jennings, Jesse jackson and Justino Rodrigues.

Sebastien Guilbard, incoming President of the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman is excited about supporting the youth. “We are pleased to be able to help these youngsters compete in such a prestigious event. They have shown dedication to their sport and to each other and we hope they do well but most of all enjoy the experience of meeting fellow athletes from other countries in our region. We are delighted to send the young kids to perpetuate a long time Cayman Tradition of sailing and boat building, which has recognized many Caymanians and the Cayman Islands for decades.”

The aim of the regatta is to promote friendly competition among young sailors from around the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands Sailing Club first sent a team to the regatta in 2000 and again in 2008. On both occasions the team was generously sponsored by the Rotary Club of Grand Cayman and the Olympic Committee. In 2008 the team finished first place in the silver fleet.

Apart from the obvious benefits derived from meeting and developing friendships with other youngsters from our Caribbean region, the regatta offers the chance for our sailors to compete against a variety of other sailors. This is always one of the biggest obstacles when living on a small island. They cannot really benchmark themselves against the best and find positive models for self improvement unless they travel abroad.

The Cayman Sailing club is a non-profit organization promoting sailing to people living in the Cayman Islands. The club has had a lot of success recently in promoting sailing to all youth of the Cayman Islands, regardless of their backgrounds.

“The five members of the team have all come through our schools programme” explained Rick Caley, manager of the Sailing Club. “This regatta allows us to choose a group of young sailors from various backgrounds to represent Cayman at an international event. The regatta will promote teamwork among a diverse group of young people, encourage sportsmanship, and foster positive self development”.

The team is currently training on the clubs J22 keel boats, a similar boat to the IC24s that they will sail in BVI. They have been taking part in the J22 fleet racing against adult teams and have acquitted themselves well. The coaches have given freely of their time to make this happen. Their aim is to finish in the top three of the gold fleet in BVI.

“The team has come together from different sailing backgrounds”, said Coach Kelvin Browne. “The younger members have learned their racing in single handed Optimist dinghies whilst the older kids are presently sailing Laser dinghies. The transition to becoming a team, each person with a specific responsibility on the boat, takes time, but they have been training for several weeks and all show a commitment to each other”


Continue Reading

Warnings issued over Cuban cholera outbreak

Warnings issued over Cuban cholera outbreak

| 09/07/2012 | 6 Comments

cuba-aid-workers (234x300)_0.jpg(CNS): Cayman Islands public health officials are warning people not to travel to Cuba unless their trip is essential following reports of a cholera outbreak in the country. This is the first incidence of the disease in Cuba for more than 130 years but officials say that at least 15 people are dead, and over one thousand people are affected by the disease. Cayman’s Medical Officer of Health Dr Kiran Kumar issued a travel advisory Monday. “We advise that residents travel to Cuba only when necessary,” he said, adding that the chances of the disease coming to Cayman were limited but if the worst happened the health service was prepared.

To ensure ultimate readiness, the Public Health Department said it is calling a multi-agency preparedness meeting this week. Dr. Kumar said the risk of importation of cholera is low but he backed the pro-active efforts by various local agencies in monitoring the cholera situation in Cuba and taking the necessary steps to prevent , detect and manage any imported cholera cases.  “The chances of importation of cholera into Cayman are limited and even if it occurs, our excellent sanitation and safe water will prevent its spread. In addition, we have adequate facilities and drugs to manage any cases should importation occur,” he added.

Dr.  Kumar urged travellers returning from Cuba who develop diarrhoea within five days to contact a doctor immediately, and state their travel history so that the right diagnosis can be made. He also told anyone who has to go to Cuba country to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.

“If you have to go, take vital precautions such as ensuring hygienic food preparation, boiling or purifying all water, and washing hands often with soap and clean water,” the senior government doctor stated. He also advised that travellers should also carry an ample supply of oral rehydration salts.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingesting contaminated food or water with cholera bacterium. It can take anywhere from five hours to five days for symptoms to appear after infection, but usually symptoms appear within 24-48 hours.  Cholera infection is often mild or without symptoms but can sometimes be severe.  Approximately one in 20 (or 5% of) infected persons will have severe disease characterized by profuse watery diarrhoea, vomiting, and leg cramps. In these people, rapid loss of body fluids leads to dehydration and shock. Without treatment, death can occur within hours.

According to WHO figures however, up to 80 percent of cases can be treated successfully with oral rehydration salts. Although there is an oral vaccine available for use in endemic countries, it is not available in the US or in Cayman.  

Officials said travellers to Cuba can greatly reduce the risk of contracting the disease by following these practices:

Drink only bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water and/or bottled or canned beverages.
Ensure that seals are unbroken when using bottled drinks.
Disinfect your own water: boil for one minute or filter the water and add two drops of household bleach or half an iodine tablet per litre of water.
Use bottled, boiled or chemically-treated water to wash dishes and brush teeth.
Use ice in your drink only if you know it was made from boiled or treated water.
Wash your hands often with soap and clean water.
Clean your hands before you eat or prepare foods, and after using the bathroom.
Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and are still hot, or fruit that you have peeled yourself.
Cook all vegetables. Do not eat salads or other raw vegetables.
Do not buy food or beverages from street vendors.


Continue Reading

Mobile voting starts as clock ticks to referendum day

Mobile voting starts as clock ticks to referendum day

| 09/07/2012 | 9 Comments

vote yes_0.JPG(CNS):  A total of 344 applications have been received by the elections office for people to use the mobile voting unit for the one man, one vote referendum, officials confirmed on Monday. The advanced mobile voting started on Little Cayman on Friday 6 July and continues this week on Cayman Brac, North Side, East End, Bodden Town, George Town and West Bay.  All voters who have applied to vote by this method are being encouraged to take note of the date that polling will be conducted in their respective district, details of which are posted below and on the elections website.

All Cayman voters will be going to the polls to cast their vote on Wednesday 18 July but those who are infirm and confined to their homes or who will be unable to attend the polling station on referendum day itself will have the chance to take advantage of the mobile voting service, which was first introduced in Cayman at the 2009 elections.

Officials are also reminding all licensed establishments that under the Liquor Licensing Law they are forbidden from selling, offering for sale or giving away intoxicating liquor between the opening of the polls at 7:00am on referendum day until one hour after the polls close at 6:00pm.  Contravention of this section of the Elections Law carries a fine of $500 or imprisonment for 6 months.

As with general elections, all referendum advertisements must cease at midnight on 17 July and all banners, buntings, and ensigns must be removed from the public domain by that deadline as well.  The use of loudspeakers and the wearing of T-shirts, pins or other paraphernalia is also forbidden on polling day supporting either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote. 

The magic number to carry the referendum is 7,582 ‘yes’ votes. Anything less will be considered a ‘No’ by government as it requires 50% plus one of the entire electorate and not 50% of the turnout. OMOV campaigners are doing their best to keep the campaign alive by going door to door, but are up against the government machine, which is now campaigning against its own poll.

The UDP is due to hold a series of public meetings this week using public finances to campaign against the question, which will ask voters if they would like to change the country’s voting system from multi-member, multi voting to one man, one vote in single member constituencies.

Although OMOV campaigners and those against the democratic principle will not be able to encourage people to vote one way or the other on the day, they will be able to continue encouraging people to go to the polls.

“Voting is a simple process and polling teams have been trained to poll expeditiously.  All registered voters are urged to exercise their franchise to vote on this matter of national importance and with it being a public holiday there really is no excuse not to attend the polls,” the elections office said. “Employers should also be mindful of the Law which allows for them to allow every voter in their employ a reasonable period to attend a polling station to vote. Failing to comply carries a penalty of $500.00 or a term of imprisonment of 6 months.”

They pointed to other offences contained in the Elections Law which will also apply to the referendum, including bribery, treating and undue influence. 

“The Police and Elections Office will be monitoring this closely and anyone who has knowledge of any such alleged infraction should contact the Police, Elections Office or the Returning Officer for the district in which the alleged infraction has occurred,” the office confirmed Monday.

Polls will open promptly at 7:00am Wednesday 18 July in all districts at 39 polling stations. Voters in West Bay are reminded that there have been changes to polling venues at 3 locations in that district.  For those who previously voted at the Church of Christ the substitute venue will be an air conditioned tent across from Republics (Foster’s Food Fair).  For those who previously voted at the New Testament Church of God voting will now take place at the Boatswain Bay Presbyterian Church and for those who previously voted at the John Gray United Church voting will take place at the air conditioned tent situated on North West Point Road.

CNS will be offering full coverage of the election all day with details of polling information during the day and counting information as it proceeds during the night. The Elections Office website will also be providing information as it becomes available.  The count will be conducted in each district and the final result will be announced by the Supervisor of Elections.

Mobile polling will be conducted in the 6 electoral districts on the following dates and times:

West Bay- 12th July, 2012 at the John A. Cumber School Hall for electors that are unable to go to the polls because of employment/service or occupation commencing at 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. In the case of private residences/hospitals/rest homes or other similar institutions a mobile team will visit between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.

George Town- 11th July, 2012 at the Elections Office at 150 Smith Road for electors that are unable to go to the polls because of employment/service or occupation commencing at 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. In the case of private residences/hospitals/rest homes or other similar institutions a mobile team will visit between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.

Bodden Town- 10th July, 2012 at the James Manoah Bodden Civic Centre for electors that are unable to go to the polls because of employment/service or occupation commencing at 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M.  In the case of private residences/hospitals/rest homes or other similar institutions a mobile team will visit between the hours of 9:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M.

North Side- 9th July, 2012 at the North Side Primary School for electors that are unable to go to the polls because of employment/service or occupation commencing at 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. In the case of private residences/hospitals/rest homes or other similar institutions a mobile team will visit between the hours of 1:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M.

East End- 9th July, 2012 at the William Allen McLaughlin Civic Centre for electors that are unable to go to the polls because of employment/service or occupation commencing at 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. In the case of private residences/hospitals/rest homes or other similar institutions a mobile team will visit between the hours of 1:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M

Cayman Brac- 9th July, 2012 at the Aston Rutty Centre for electors that are unable to go to the polls because of employment/service or occupation commencing at 9:00 A.M. until 1:00 P.M. In the case of private residences/hospitals/rest homes or other similar institutions a mobile team will visit between the hours of 1:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M

Continue Reading

One Man One Vote

One Man One Vote

| 09/07/2012 | 17 Comments

To listen to the opponents of the OMOV proposal try to justify their opposition would be considered funny if the outcome did not have such serious implications for the future of the Cayman Islands. Between leaving the system as is or changing to OMOV there is no justifiable reason for not making the change. The only reason is an attempt to cling to political power.

If McKeeva and his cohorts seriously believed the current system was better for the Cayman Islands and genuinely wanted what was best for Cayman, they would be promoting the logical extension of the current system. They would be promoting a single constituency for the Cayman Islands where every eligible Caymanian would be able to vote for 17 representatives. 

This would mean that every Caymanian would have the same number of votes.  However, this is not what McKeeva wants as it would mean George Town (most registered voters) would be able to control all representatives to the Legislative Assembly.  If George Town voters voted for 17 candidates from George Town, because George Town has the majority registered voters this would mean the 17 candidates from George Town would be elected to the LA, therefore depriving all other constituencies of any representation.

This simply illustrates why the current system is unfair. The same thing is happening on a smaller scale wherever there is more than one representative for a constituency. In West Bay, where McKeeva represents a constituency with the largest number of voters in the district, he and his running mates know they only need cater to that base. As long as they keep their base of voters happy, the other constituents in West Bay have no say and their needs are of no importance in the running of the district.  This is what is very unfair to those Caymanians who have no sayin the running of their district and ultimately their country simply because of their area of residence.

The change to One Man One Vote will take a large step towards providing better representation for Caymanians, something that is desperately needed at this time. If the best interests of the Cayman Islands are the guiding force in this issue, there is no question that changing our system to One Man One Vote is the best way to move forward.

Continue Reading

Bodden offers bitter-sweet taste of nostalgia

Bodden offers bitter-sweet taste of nostalgia

| 09/07/2012 | 6 Comments

IMG-20120709-00161 (226x300).jpg(CNS): The president of UCCI has made another significant contribution to local culture with the recent publication of his new book, 'A gathering of old men'. In his latest work Roy Bodden returns to his love of storytelling and takes readers on a bitter-sweet nostalgic journey to a forgotten time when things were much simpler but sometimes extremely hard. From the adventures and dangers of turtling to the fears of the future, Bodden tells a story of Cayman’s past as he heard it as a boy listening to the old men in Bodden Town talk under the tree outside his bedroom window. The book is endearing but tinged with sadness as it reflects tough times and lost times.

Although the book is a departure from his recent political trilogy, it still tackles one political issue that remains as poignant today as it did to the old men then: the balance between native Caymanians and the growing numbers of overseas migrants, who have changed the shape of Caymanian society is a recurrent theme. The book illustrates the incredible complexities of Caymanian society and culture but at the same time entertains the readers with sad and funny tales in equal measure.

Bodden is an excellent storyteller and he has invoked a picture of bygone days that depicts the rich tapestry of the Caymanian way of life, long forgotten in many quarters. The author’s storytelling ability allows him to take the readers through some complex issues that Cayman is still grappling with and connect them with what many would say were the legitimate fears of the changing community.

On the surface the book recalls conversations of old men but in reality it is a conversation that Cayman continues to have today about where it is has come from and where it is going.

The book is published by Ian Randle and is available at all local book stores and supermarkets.

Continue Reading

Dart to take 50% of taxes

Dart to take 50% of taxes

| 09/07/2012 | 263 Comments

dart shovels.JPG(CNS): Dart Realty (Cayman) Ltd will be taking a 50% share of all tourism taxes levied from guests staying in any of its properties for the ten years following the development, renovation or acquisition of any hotel under an agreement it signed in December with government. According to documents, leaked to the North Side MLA, Dart and its affiliates have also been given a 100% duty concession on all materials used in the development of anything for the next 30 years. The deal, which heralded the development of the Esterley Tibbetts Highway, includes some exceptional and unheard of concessions, Ezzard Miller said, as he showed CNS details of what appears to be snippets of a much larger document.

Among the many concessions that Dart can expect under this part of the ForCayman Investment Alliance, which deals with the West Bay Road projects, it will be allowed to keep half of the taxes it collects from guests staying in the hotel it intends to develop on the site of the former Courtyard Marriott or at any other hotel or tourism accommodation that it builds, renovates or even purchases over the next thirty years for ten years after the opening of that property.

Miller pointed out that the move to give a developer taxes that would normally go to general revenue is unprecedented in the Cayman Islands and has never been mentioned in any of the previous public revelations about the ForCayman Investment Alliance. “There is no precedent for anyone in the private sector collecting for, and then taking, a share from government taxes. I have never heard of the private sector being allowed to collect and take taxes,” he said.

He said this will mean many millions of dollars will be lost from government revenue and just the few pages of the deal that have been leaked to him suggest that the ForCayman Alliance is far worse than he had feared. “It is preposterous,” the independent member said of the deal, which has already been signed.

Miller said he has shared the content of the leaked papers with his legislative colleague Arden McLean, the opposition member for East End, both of whom say the entire document needs to be in the public domain so the people of Cayman can judge for themselves if this deal really is for Cayman, as has been claimed.

“We are appealing to whoever sent the pages of the deal that we now have, which includes the signature pages, to send us the full agreement if they have it,” Miller said. “It is very important everyone gets to see this as it seems there is even less benefit to the Caymanian people as a whole in this agreement than we first feared. If this is part of the NRA deal, which we are confidentit is, then we have some very, very serious concerns about this.”

McLean said he was stunned by how much Dart has been granted in the deal.

“If Dart is, as we are constantly being told, really for Cayman, how can they demand so much?” he asked, referring to the three decades that the company will not pay any duty as well as the half share of tax the company will be taking from visitors.

He noted that such a potential reduction in revenue was very worrying given the government’s current economic situation, and the MLA raised concerns that if Dart is to purchase an existing hotel, a common speculation given that both the Ritz Carlton and the Westin could be for sale, government would lose an existing revenue stream as well. 

“Local people will then have to make up that shortfall through other taxes,” McLean added.
The MLAs also questioned how the deal could have passed muster with the FCO, given that the Financial Framework Agreement signed by McKeeva Bush and Henry Bellingham last year says the UK needs to approve any deals government enters into which would impact public revenue streams.

“It is highly unusual for government to hand taxes directly over to an owner,” McLean added. He said  Dart was already getting a massive 100% duty concession on all imports related to future development, as well as the generous stamp duty concessions, which he believed was sufficient to encourage any developer to make an investment. But giving him the taxes was a concession too far that he did not think the people of Cayman could accept.

Both men said that, given the extent of the concessions as spelled out in the schedule, it was very difficult to see any benefit to the community as a whole as government will now collect almost nothing from any development associated with Dart Realty or any of its companies for the next three decades.

“I have always questioned whether this was really designed to help the country and Caymanians on the whole,” Miller said. “Of course, a few people may get some of the jobs but it seems Dart is getting too much and Caymanians are getting too little. These revelations do not calm what are evidently legitimate fears and we shudder to think what is in the rest of the agreement,” he added, as he appealed to whoever it was that sent him the document, who was obviously concerned as well, to send him the entire document.

The North Side representative accused members of the Dart team of being disingenuous about the ForCayman Alliance, as he said many important things are being kept from the people as deals are struck behind closed doors. He said Dart representatives continued to criticise him and make personal attacks, despite the fact that he had reserved his own criticisms for the deal rather than the people involved.

“Given what we have now seen, my criticisms of this deal are well-founded. This will not benefit Caymanians as a whole but it will certainly benefit Dart,” he added.

Continue Reading

Robbery suspects rounded up

Robbery suspects rounded up

| 09/07/2012 | 1 Comment

CNB robbery_0.jpg(CNS):  Updated 3:50pm –Police now have a total of six people behind bars in connection with last month’s Cayman National Bank robbery and the Weststar TV heist which took place in May. A police spokesperson said two more men were charged with the bank hold-up this morning and more arrests were made over the weekend and on Monday, including a 40-year-old woman.  Two men, aged 23 and 27, appeared in court today charged with robbery and possession of an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence. The same two men have also been arrested over the robbery at Weststar TV on 24 May on suspicion of robbery, along with a third man, aged 33, who was also arrested regarding both robberies.

At the weekend police arrested two more men in connection with the bank robbery at CNB in Buckingham Square, where the gang of armed men made off with almost a half million dollars in cash on 28 June. During their escape their getaway vehicle collided with a bank van, forcing the robbers to flee on foot. As they fled they dropped some $100,000 before being picked up by another car and making their escape.

Police made the first arrest in West Bay the day after the heist and now have a total of five men in custody in connection with the robbery and one woman. Police said Monday afternoon that  a 40-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit robbery. She remains in police custody while enquiries continue.

The first man charged with the crime was 29-year-old Marlon Dillon, who appeared in court last week and was remanded in custody to HMP Northward. Two others appeared Monday while two more men remain in police custody. One other woman however was arrested in connection with the crime but released on police bail.

Continue Reading

$5.8M wasted on WB school

$5.8M wasted on WB school

| 09/07/2012 | 38 Comments

beulah smith.JPG(CNS): As a result of poor management procedures the government spent six million dollars on what is now an empty lot (left) when it was forced to stop the Beulah Smith High School project in West Bay, the auditor general said in his latest report. Alastair Swarbrick said the ministry gave the order for the contractor to begin work before a contract was signed but had to stop the work two months later. “The Ministry did not protect the interests of the government by ensuring that there was a signed contract in place that would deal with unusual circumstances, such as the order to stop work," he said in his report on his latest assessment of the way government manages major capital projects.

Among the many other problems relating to the school projects Swarbrick also revealed that the school project designs were never formally approved by Cabinet. In yet another damning report over the way the government manages and spends public money, the country’s auditor said the public purse had to shell out $1,397,000, as part of a negotiated settlement to the contractor for the work that was completed before the stop work order was issued.

Using the Government Office Accommodation Project (GOAP) and the three high school projects as case studies to illustrate the myriad problems in government’s management of major projects, Swarbrick pointed out the consequences of the failure of government to have proper processes in place.

“The importance of a Government-wide strategic framework for ensuring that the capital projects align with the government’s strategic objectives and policy priorities and for determining whether they are affordable is demonstrated by the expenditure incurred on the Beulah Smith High School project,” Swarbrick states in the report. “In this instance, the ministry incurred costs $5.9 million before Cabinet decided that the project would not be completed. In the end, value-for-money was not achieved as significant monies were expended for what is now a vacant lot.”

Among the many issues surrounding the high school projects Swarbrick points to the failure to make a proper business case for the schools at the outset, which resulted in multiple changes to the projects and the increasing costs. He said the cost estimate provided in 2005 did not reflect the complete strategy ultimately pursued by the minister of education that changed the design to include a new education delivery philosophy, community and sporting facilities, and hurricane shelters.

“This significant change for the business needs for the school projects would have had a significant impact on the cost of the project and the timeline for their construction. Despite this change, there was no attempt to develop a robust business case at that time,” Swarbrick stated.

The Central Tenders Committee accepted the contractors bid for the Beulah Smith High School in August 2008 but the ministry provided authority for the work to start before a contract was signed. It then had to stop work on that school in December 2008 as a result of the downturn in the economy and government’s falling revenue.

Although Swarbrick states that all steps in the open tender process were followed and the assessment criteria used were supportive of the overall procurement strategy, the evaluation committee did not include government staff with construction project management expertise.

“Where the Ministry had limited expertise in construction project management, the inclusion of such experts could have helped support good decision making during this stage of procurement.”

One issue he said was that there was a significant price differences between the estimate provided by the quantity surveyor and the bid price. Although the lowest bids were accepted, Swarbrick said government never investigated the reason why there was such a major difference in the cost estimates.

However, he points to the decision to allow work to start without an approved contract as a major problem that should not happen again.

Swarbrick also revealed that during his limited assessment of the school projects he found that Cabinet was never presented with nor did they approve the final project designs leading to the tendering process.

“Without Cabinet involvement, we believe there was insufficient oversight and controls to deter abuse of process,” Swarbrick stated.

See full report below.

Continue Reading

Pawn shop robbery suspect denies all charges

Pawn shop robbery suspect denies all charges

| 09/07/2012 | 0 Comments

crime-scene-tape.jpg(CNS): A 20-year-old man has denied robbery, common assault and two counts of possessing an imitation gun in connection with a hold-up at the Cashwiz store in Bodden Town on 31 May. Appearing in Grand Court on Friday morning, Aaron McLaughlin pleaded not guilty to all four charges, which relate to a robbery at the pawn shop when he is accused of stealing $61 and a gold ring after threatening staff with an imitation weapon. McLaughlin is also accused of assaulting a police officer during his arrest a short distance from where the daylight robbery had occurred.  

McLaughlin was remanded in custody until his trial in September, which is expected to take three days.

Meanwhile, a 23-year-old man also pleaded not guilty to a mugging which took place in car park off the West Bay Road in January 2009. The prosecution says Rex Watler robbed his victim of a wallet that contained around $40, a driver’s licence and a credit card. Watler pleaded not guilty to one count of robbery and denies being one of two men who mugged a 44-year-old man behind the Triple Crown pub.

Watler was released on bail until March next year, when his trial will take place more than four years after the event. The judge queried the timeline and pointed out to the crown that it may face arguments relating to the delay in justice given the fact that the bill of rights will be in place by the time to trial starts.

Continue Reading