Schools project starts again

New management services sought


The building of two new public high
schools on Grand Cayman was due to resume
Tuesday after work was interrupted there for more than two months following a
dispute with the previous construction contractor.

Education Ministry officials said initial
work at both the new John Gray High School
in George Town and Clifton
Hunter High
School in Frank
Sound would focus on roofing
installations, exterior walls and mechanical and electrical installations.

Work in those areas was needed immediately
to prevent deterioration of what had previously been completed, Minister
Rolston Anglin said.

“These works are necessary to
preserve warranties and are critical…to mitigating costs going forward,” he

Ministry officials said Tuesday was
spent gathering needed vehicles, supplies and equipment to resume site work.
They expected construction crews to be back on the site as early as 7am today.

No construction work had been done
at either school since the previous contractor, Tom Jones International, walked
off the site on 13 November.

That was actually the second work
site shutdown to occur at the schools last year. The first was on 11 September,
but it lasted just a week.

The Education Ministry’s internal
project management team said it would supervise the immediate works at the
schools sites, but that tenders would be issued shortly for construction
management services.

A construction manager is expected
to assume responsibility for day-to-day operations at the school sites, once
that person is appointed.

Although the original contractor is
no longer involved in the project, at least some of the previous subcontracting
companies have been re-hired and were back on the job Tuesday.

Alan Roffey, chief executive of
Caribbean Mechanical (High Schools 2008) Ltd., said Tuesday that his company
has had people working on the project since 29 December following an agreement
that was signed with the ministry. However, he said that work mainly involved
administrative tasks like schedule preparation and handling purchase orders.

“We have now been instructed to
recommence actual work on site,” Mr. Roffey said.

Mr. Roffey said that his company
would be recalling about 20 laid off workers for the time being – starting with
senior tradesmen. He said more will be taken on as they are needed.

“It takes time to ramp up properly
for productive work,” he said.

The difficulty with the previous
schools contractor involved disputes over some 85 change orders in the project,
which totalled more than $17 million, according to Tom Jones International. The
Tom Jones contract was cancelled by government and the construction firm sued.

Tom Jones International was also
sued by Caribbean Mechanical, which was seeking more than $2 million for work
done on the high schools sites through the end of September. Mr. Roffey has
previously said Caribbean Mechanical was not paid for that work.

Tom Jones is seeking nearly $3
million from the government in its lawsuit for an amount the construction
company said it was owed.

Premier McKeeva Bush
has said that the wrangling over the schools projects has delayed planned opening
dates of September 2010 for both campuses.


The John Gray High School construction site taken Tuesday.
Photo: Jewel Levy