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The Board of Directors of Jamaica Cricket 2007 Limited has expressed concern about the performance of Ashtrom Building Systems, the contractors working on the Sabina Park upgrading project.
According to Robert Bryan, Executive Director of the local organizing committee, the Board had a “very low level of confidence” about the commitment of the contractors to complete the project in accordance with their contractual obligations in a manner that would facilitate the country meeting its obligations under the Host Venue Agreement for the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2007.
These comments came against the background of a proposal submitted by Ashtrom, on April 5, for the extension of the completion schedule for the Sabina Park project.
In the proposal, Ashtrom advised that based on their current level of mobilisation, staffing and working hours, they expect to complete the project in February 2007, instead of the agreed contractual date of October 2006. This new date, the company said, would take into account, that there would be no changes in the design, adjustments due to the cement crisis and that no official cricket matches would be played at Sabina Park this year.
Ashtrom blamed the setback, on cement and building permit delays, which amounted to two months. Adding to this quandary, were issues regarding land acquisition of Melbourne Road, as well as the removal of power lines and the demolition of properties in the area, which accounted for a month’s delay.
The constructing company, in its proposal, stated that it could accelerate the project timeline to November 31, 2006, but it would need to increase the labour, material and equipment resources at an additional cost of US$1.75 million.
In addition, it advised that the deliverables agreed in regard to the north stand for India’s tour in May, would not be possible. These included the completion of the general seating bowl and officials’ and players’ facilities.
The company also indicated that in the event that cricket matches took place in May and June, then it would need to suspend work and this would affect their proposed delivery date. Addressing a press conference held at the offices of Jamaica Cricket 2007 on Oxford Road recently, Mr. Bryan said that the Board had rejected the request for the extension of the completion date of February 2007, and deemed it unacceptable. “The Board rejected the basis for the delays except for those related specifically to the cement crisis. In this respect the Board noted that this claim needed to be properly substantiated by Ashtrom with a detailed submission,” he said.
The Board, he noted, also rejected the claim and request for the increase in the contract sum of US$1.75 million on the basis that it was unsubstantiated and unjustified except, on the issue of cement.
“All of the other issues, which were included in the claim that was presented, the Board had already in its earlier agreement to extend the contract by six months to October 31, 2006, incorporated all of those issues in that extension,” he informed.
As for the matter of India’s upcoming tour in May and June, Mr. Bryan said that based on a firm commitment from Ashtrom, it was agreed that matches would be played at Sabina Park as scheduled, with the clear commitment that this would not affect the completion of the project as contracted.
In the meantime, the Executive Director said the Board was not entertaining the option of not having Sabina Park for the Cricket World Cup. “It is the resolve of the Board of JC 2007, so I will not speculate on the ‘if’ because that will not happen,” he stated firmly.
“You have to accept that Ashtrom understands that they should not fail. Legally, there are remedies in the contract, which we are prepared to exercise to the very fullest,” he warned.
However in the event that Ashtrom does not live up to its contract, Mr. Bryan said that the Board would pursue the exploration of alternative options to complete this project.
He also mentioned that while there was an obvious problem being experienced with the Sabina Park project, there was “absolutely no problem” with the stadium at Florence Hall, Trelawny.
“The stadium at Trelawny suffered from the same lack of cement and at this point, we have no problem with the contractor and claims for increase costs and no claim to double workforce,” he pointed out.