Hurlston: Port not overcharged

Hurlston Ltd., the contractor that constructed the buildings at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, issued a press release Wednesday stating it had not overcharged for the work, as it believes the Auditor General’s report on the project indicates.

‘The Special Report and subsequent public comment have created in the eyes of the public the impression that Hurlston Ltd. overcharged for the upland portion of the work,’ the press release stated. ‘Nothing can be further from the truth.

Hurlston said it was awarded the contract on a fixed-price basis after ‘a very rigorous and extensive tender and evaluation process’.

The Auditor General’s report does not specifically state that Hurlston overcharged for the work, but it does state that there were lower bidders for the upland portion of the project, and that the work could have been secured for $2.48 million less than the amount eventually paid to Hurlston.

The tendering process was flawed in the opinion of the Auditor General, because it allowed the recommendations of the project Tenders Assessment Committee to be overridden by Burns Conolly Group, the project manager.

The Auditor General also believes the marine portion of the project should not have been linked to the upland portion in the bid, and that by doing so, the project ended up costing more than if the two bids had been requested separately.

In its press release, Hurlston Ltd. also comments on the variations that were made to the originally approved design.

The Port Authority management said it did not request or approve many of the changes. It claimed the project manager reported mainly to the members of the Board of Directors, thus circumventing the Port Authority management from the decision-making process to a large extent.

Hurlston disagrees with that contention.

‘During the construction process, regularly scheduled progress meetings were held almost weekly by the Port Authority’s official consultants, attended by various persons associated with the project, including Port Authority officials and representatives of Hurlston Ltd.,’ the press release stated.

‘Minutes of all meetings were duly sent out to those concerned with the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal project. The minutes of the meetings documented all proposed changes, many of which we understand were initiated by the Port Authority itself for changes to the scope of works.’

Hurlston also stated in the press release that all requests for payments under the contract were made in accordance with the signed contract with the Port Authority.

‘Payments were certified by the independent project manager and approved by an independent quantity surveyor acting on behalf of the lending banks and the Port Authority.’

The Auditor General’s report also pointed out time delays in the project, to which Hurlston responded in its press release.

‘The public should also be aware that Hurlston Ltd., because of damage to the port area caused by Hurricane Ivan and the effects of Hurricane Wilma, have experienced material delays, labour shortages, significant increases in the price of materials, shipping and labour costs [and] have had to absorb many unforeseen costs while completing the project.’

Hurlston noted that while under construction, the buildings of the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal withstood Hurricane Ivan and the waves created by Hurricane Wilma.

‘In the opinion of Hurlston Ltd., it is most unfortunate that a good project, so important to the Cayman Islands, has been so unfairly criticised and politicised by a process that supposedly is intended to offer a fair and balanced review.’