Carson Charles slams Rowley’s claim that monies still owed for highway extension

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Carson Charles slams Rowley’s claim that monies still owed for highway extension

Former president of the National Infrastructure Development Company limited (Nidco) Dr Carson Charles has denied claims made by the Prime Minister, that the monies are still owed to international contractor Constructora OAS for construction of the Point Fortin Highway extension.

Speaking at the opening of the highway on October 15, Rowley said the state may still have to pay over a billion dollars to the former contractor due to a clause that was removed from the contract during the tenure of the People’s Partnership government.

But, speaking during debate on the 2024 Budget in the Senate on Monday, Charles, who was Nidco president during the start of the project, denied that OAS is still owed over a billion dollars.

Filling in as a temporary senator for Damian Lyder yesterday, Charles added, “You (Govt) know full well no clause was removed from the contract. Addendum did not remove any clause. I’ve said it over and over what happened. No clause was removed. No clauses were actually removed. What happened was, there were consequences to entering negotiations and to deciding that you’re going to continue with the works. There are obvious consequences to that, so it’s not a simple matter of removing a clause.”

Charles said: “Stop saying that we overpay. We paid exactly for the work that was done. OAS is not any company that we were all in love with because we have no idea who they are, how they got here.

“At no time was OAS overpaid. Why you keep on saying that they were overpaid $5 billion and the job only reach half when that is not true, when the total amount of money ever received on the job was $5.1 billion. Half a billion gone for acquisition… How could OAS get that when that’s all the money that was received. Why are you making these things up?”

Charles said up until 2015, he was able to oversee 61 per cent of the highway’s completion and only the best consultants were hired to work on the mammoth project.

As a result of this, he knocked Works and Transport Minister Rohan Sinanan for taking all the praise for the project when the majority of the work was done under the PP government.

Charles acknowledged that Nidco did not do everything right, saying: “I’m not saying what we did was perfect. We were faced with a unique situation. The first ever in this country to manage a project of this magnitude in four years… There are ways to terminate a contract. If you terminate the contract by first starving the contractor of money and after he ain’t get no money and he can’t work, you could get to terminate for non-performance, then you could probably estimate what could happen after that. I don’t have to say what could happen after that.

“But I could tell you, I was there until December 2015, and we did not get a red cent from no administration for the highway. I doubt very much they got any money after I left, so I don’t think the contractor was paid.”

He also called on the Government to say when it will complete the rest of the highway project, including the extension from Penal to Mon Desir.