By Richard Bhainie
LEGAL proceedings have been instituted by the State against contractor BK International Inc. and its insurance company, North American Fire and General Insurance Company (NAFICO) for a breach of contract relating to the construction of the Yarrowkabra Secondary School.
According to court documents seen by this publication, Attorney-General, Anil Nandlall, on Tuesday, filed a fixed date application in the High Court, seeking to recover in excess of $717,887,887 in damages, restitution and money owed to the State.
In January, 2020 the Government, through the Ministry of Education (MoE), entered into an agreement with BK International Inc. for the construction of the Yarrowkabra Secondary School, located at Linden Highway with the fixed contract price of $826,757,737.
VIKAB Engineering Consultants Limited was appointed on behalf of the Ministry of Education as engineering consultants for the project.
Perusal of a work execution schedule submitted by BK International Inc. to VIKAB revealed that the contractor failed and/or neglected to complete the scope of works in accordance with the contractual work-execution schedule.
A meeting was held involving BK International, VIKAB and MoE to allow the contractor to rectify the breaches of the work execution schedule and to secure its future compliance.
In August 2020, VIKAB conducted an assessment of all the works done on the site by BK International and concluded that a mere five per cent of the works were completed after a period of five months had elapsed which constitutes almost 50 per cent of the contract period.
The sum being claimed by the state includes $100,000,000 in general damages; $82,675,774 as liquidated damages; $82,675,774 as underperformance bonds issued by NAFICO; $165,351,547 for advanced payments made by MoE; $137,184,782 is being claimed as restitution for payments made to BK for which there were no works done and $100,000,000 for breach of the contract.
Consequent to the breach of contract on BK’s part, the Attorney-General (AG) wrote to the contractor on November 1, 2020 for, and on behalf of, the MoE informing him that the contract was terminated.
The AG also informed the contractor to vacate the site forthwith. However, on November 10, a visit to the site revealed that the company was still operating at the site.
In that regard, damages in excess of $50,000,000 are being sought by the State for trespass committed by the contractor from November 2, 2020.
The school was intended to benefit 600 children in Yarrowkabra and neighbouring communities along the Highway.
A press release from the Ministry of Education on November 21, 2020 explained that “The effect of this unreasonable delay is that the 600 students who are to benefit from the school and its modern facilities will be forced to travel long distances to attend other secondary schools, or to be placed in the Primary Top Departments of some primary schools, which is a practice the Ministry of Education plans to stop”.