Port flap continues

The Burns Conolly group responded to claims made by McAlpine Ltd. in a letter sent to the Auditor General concerning the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal project.

McAlpine’s letter dated 8 August, which was also copied to the media, took offence with public statements made by Burns Conolly regarding the Auditor General’s special report on the port project.

Included in the letter were extensive notes prepared by McAlpine and its one-time potential joint venture partner on the port project, Arch and Godfrey.

‘To suggest in anyway that McAlpine and Arch and Godfrey failed to submit a bona fide tender is completely false,’ the letter stated. ‘We fully understood this project and had the expertise to complete it successfully.’

The letter noted that McAlpine built the original George Town port facility in 1976 and that it had successfully completed marine projects in the Caribbean and in the United Kingdom.

‘McAlpine and Arch and Godfrey have never understood why we were not awarded this contract,’ the letter stated.

The Auditor General’s report revealed that a Tenders Assessment Committee formed by the Port Authority unanimously recommended the McAlpine/Arch and Godfrey Joint Venture ‘based on their experience, proven track record, and they have requisite licences to commence work immediately’.

Instead, however, the construction contract was eventually awarded in two parts, with Tampa-based Misener Marine Corporation Inc. getting the portion of the project over water, and Hurlston Ltd. getting the inland portion.

The notes attached to the letter claim Mr. Conolly ‘made misleading and incorrect statements on Radio Cayman’s Talk Today Programme’ with regard to the tender submission prepared by McAlpine/Arch and Godfrey JV. The notes list the alleged incorrect statements and offer detailed explanations as to why the statements are incorrect.

Mr. Conolly responded to the letter in a written statement.

‘… The McAlpine JV does not have all of the facts surrounding the client-accepted design changes prior to contract, [the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association]-recommended adjustments [made] post tender, the final contract documents, nor, apparently, an accurate transcript of our comments on the radio.’

The statement said the Burns Conolly Group reserved further comment at this time because the matter is in the hands of its attorneys.

The Burns Conolly Group threatened to sue the Cayman Islands Government over the contents of the Auditor General’s report if it were not withdrawn. In the past, Mr. Conolly called the report ‘erroneous and misleading’.

Auditor General Dan Duguay said at the time that there was no legislative provision to withdraw the report, and that he would not withdraw it even if he could because he felt it was a fair and balanced report.

Mr. Duguay said Monday that he had heard nothing further about the potential lawsuit, and said he would be surprised if he did.

With regard to the letter from McAlpine, Mr. Duguay said he did not read anything in it that would make him want to revisit the matter.

‘We have no intentions of doing anything more with regard to that report,’ he said.

Mr. Duguay did point out however, that the Public Accounts Committee would at some point have to consider the matter in order to prepare its report on the subject.