Royal Watler Cruise Terminal project manager Burns Conolly Group Limited issued a press release this week refuting the findings of the Auditor General’s report on the project which was released last week.
‘The report, in the opinion of the Burns Conolly Group, contains numerous inaccuracies, assumptions and conclusions that do not appear to have been based on the full facts and circumstances surrounding this project,’ the press release stated.
According to the Burns Conolly Group, it had pointed out many of what it felt were inaccuracies in the report to the Auditor General prior to the release of the report.
‘The Auditor General, despite having the information and documents provided, appears to have chosen to disregard the same.’
Giving an example of what it said was misleading information, the Burns Conolly Group pointed to the section of the Auditor General’s report headed ‘The Project Manager did not consult the Port Authority for change requests’.
‘This is a grossly inaccurate and misleading statement,’ the press release stated.
The Auditor General’s report stated that there had been 28 variations to the original approved design to the upland works of the project, which involved the buildings.
The report said the Port Authority management told the Auditor General that they did not make the requests for variations and that 15 of them had not been approved.
The Auditor General’s report said that the Burns Conolly Group had represented that 21 of the variations had been initiated by the Port Authority management.
As a result, the Auditor General’s report stated that the disagreement on who initiated the variations was an example of a clear lack of communication between the two parties.
The Burns Conolly Group disagreed with that assessment in its press release.
‘During the contract stage [through] February 2006, 28 changes were made to the upland contract, which were necessary and were all relative to a design or scope of works change, not to errors,’ the release stated.
‘Twenty of these 28 changes were directly initiated by the Port Authority and all were made with the full knowledge of the Authority.
‘The Port Authority’s director, Paul Hurlston, was invited to every project meeting and was sent written notes of those meetings after they were held. The same applied to the acting deputy director of the Port [Authority] the main bankers from the lending banks, the associated engineers, QS and others.’
The Auditor General’s report notes that the Port Authority management failed to attend many of the project progress meetings.
Mr. Hurlston said in his written response appended to the Auditor General’s report that one of the difficulties experienced on the project was that the Burns Conolly Group ‘was instructed and answerable to certain members of the Board of Directors, and in that way the management of the Port Authority was to a large extent circumvented from the decision-making process’.
Mr. Hurlston said efforts to correct the problem were unsuccessful.
In its press release however, the Burns Conolly group said the Port Authority management was fully aware of the proposed variations.
‘The Director and/or the
Acting Deputy Director in fact attended many of these meetings as they were all held in the Port Authority’s boardroom,’ the press release stated. ‘All proposed changes were initiated and documented in these meetings.’
The press release also addressed the point made in the Auditor General’s report that there had been more than $519,000 of payment certificates issued for variations to works. The report later states that, in the opinion of the Auditor General, design-build contracts like that for the port project should have fewer variation requests than design-bid-build contracts.
‘Regarding payments under the contracts, all were only made after approval by an independent Quantity Surveyor acting on behalf of both lending banks and the Port Authority,’ the press release stated.
‘Any suggestion that this process allowed the contractors to overcharge for works is grossly misleading and inaccurate.’
The Burns Conolly Group stated the Auditor General’s report contained many inaccurate statements, opinions and conclusions that needed to be corrected.
‘The public has the right to be provided with accurate and factual information on such matters, particularly in statements from the Auditor General’s Office,’ the release stated. ‘The Burns Conolly Group will be issuing a factual statement and analysis of relevant sections of the Auditor General’s Report to the public in due course.
‘Only with the full facts can the public be expected to form a fair and balanced opinion of the project and indeed our company’s known professionalism.’