Warner said the Cabinet had taken a decision to suspend “all contracts” in relation to the project pending a review which the Cabinet will conduct over whether or not the highway project should go forward after he asked the Cabinet to cancel all of them.
“I felt that hospitals, school places, running water and much more were more important than super highways,” he told Newsday. Cabinet will come to a decision on the project by as early was next week, he added.
Warner said the National Infrastructure Development Corporation (NIDCO) had taken on a firm called Aecom for a contract worth approximately $6.6 billion. He said he met with officials of Aecom and asked for all matters in relation to the project to be suspended, penalty free. He also said all other contracts had been suspended.
However, NIDCO chairman Carson Charles yesterday said he had no knowledge of any contracts being awarded for the highways project. However, he said NIDCO had been in the middle of tendering procedures when a decision was taken to halt the process pending the executive’s review of the project. He said administrative costs have already been incurred in the project but could not quantify these costs.
“The entire highway programme is under review,” Charles said. “This is a matter for the executive but it is unclear whether Trinidad and Tobago has that kind of money to build that. We don’t have those resources at this time.” He put the estimated cost for the project at a baseline of $17 billion, but estimated that the final costs—should the project go through — could go even higher.
As to reports that contracts for the project had been suspended, he said, “there is nothing to suspend. I don’t know what you are speaking about.”
He said no issue of penalty costs arose, but could not specify which firms participated in the nascent tendering process and whether the quashing of the process would incur further costs.
Charles said the controversial Rapid Rail project remains on hold. He said $500 million had been spent on the design phase of the project.