The Minister of Public Works, Lt. Col. the Hon. David A Burch, OBE (Mil), ED, JP, MP, stated: “It is completely irresponsible and alarmist to simply throw out grossly misleading information as fact and the Shadow Minister should know better – this Ministry will always provide accurate information.”
The Minister’s comments follow an interview published on 21 November 2022 with Mr Craig Cannonier JP, MP, the Shadow Minister for Public Works, regarding the demolition of the former carpentry and paint shop buildings at the Government Quarry located in Hamilton Parish.
In that interview, the Shadow Minister claimed:
- The demolition project could have been completed by the staff at the Quarry;
- The quarry staff were not aware of any demolition works.
- The contract for this project was valued at $100,000.00;
- The Government is strongly considering privatisation of the Quarry; and
- There has not been any transparency with regard to this project and the Feasibility Study of the Government Quarry, which was announced on 15 July 2022
Minister Burch said: “To be wrong on every aspect of this story is quite astounding.”
The facts are as follows:
- The former carpentry and paint shop buildings were in need of renovations as both suffered major structural damage during Hurricane Humberto in 2019.
- The engineering assessment concluded that the structural frame of the buildings was greatly compromised and inadequate for continued use and as a result, would be extremely unsafe for the employees to work in. Therefore, the services being performed in the buildings were relocated to other venues.
- A comparison of pricing was made for a new build versus a full renovation of the existing structures. The option selected was to rebuild the structures; thus, a demolition was required.
- In the fall of 2020, the Department of Public Lands and Buildings inquired with the management of the Quarry if the demolition project could be completed by internal staff. Quarry management indicated that it does not have the capacity to complete the required work.
- Subsequently, the Ministry issued a low-value procurement request for the completion of the project, to which three (3) contractors submitted quotes in accordance with the Government’s Code of Practice for Project Management and Procurement.
- The contract was awarded to the lowest bidder to ensure value for money and is therefore valued at $12,935.00 - subject to contingencies.
The Quarry staff were advised on multiple occasions leading up to the buildings being scheduled for demolition on 11 November - with the most recent notification being on 18 October 2022 during the internal Joint Consultative Committee meeting between Public Works management, union representatives and Quarry staff. The original demolition date was then revised to 19 November 2022 at the request of Quarry management to allow the employees sufficient time to remove their belongings and prepare the buildings.
Regarding the feasibility study of the Government Quarry, which will get underway shortly, the Ministry would like to remind the public that the Government has not made any decision regarding the future of the quarry operations, nor will it do so without proper consultation with our Union partners.
As stated in the House of Assembly on 15 July 2022 by the Minister:
“…the Government needs to have a thorough, unbiased and independent review to make the most effective decisions moving forward. The report will provide recommendations for the Government to consider. This consideration will not occur without the full involvement of the Bermuda Industrial Union – with whom a Collective Bargaining Agreement exists and we fully support.
To be clear, the Government views the Bermuda Industrial Union as a partner and will have open dialogue with them throughout this process. Our union partner has also been made aware of the intention of Government to avoid redundancies.
Regardless of rumours that may arise in the media or elsewhere, this Government has not - nor will not – make any decisions on the way forward for the Quarry Depot until the report has been completed and properly scrutinised – shared and discussed with the Bermuda Industrial Union.”
In the interest of good journalism, the Ministry implores the media outlets and interested parties to seek clarity with the Ministry beforehand, as unfounded claims cause nothing but confusion to the Government, our union partners, employees and the general public. Media outlets have the utmost responsibility to be fair, accurate and non-biased in order to properly hold entities accountable, including the Government. However, all these requirements can only be accomplished on the basis of facts.