(Jamaica Observer) KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, says he has mandated the new procurement authority to develop a policy outline to introduce performance management contracting in the procurement process.
He said the introduction of this accountability mechanism will serve to improve how contractors work.
“We know of several contractors who have work they don’t finish; they don’t complete it on time, but yet they come back into the process. So there must be a way within the procurement process in which the past performances of contractors feature in the ability to get future work,” he said.
The Prime Minister was speaking at a US$195-million ($2.8-billion) contract signing ceremony for the South Coast Highway Improvement Project (SCHIP) at Jamaica House on Monday, August 26.
Holness said the incorporation of the new structure will signal the start of stipulations to create the institutional framework to change the culture of local contractors, noting that “there is a view that contracting in Jamaica is just very chaotic [and] that contractors are not accountable”.
“Motorists [and] commuters, especially those who have to use those thoroughfares that are under construction, complain bitterly about the work ethic and discipline of the contractors and supervision of the National Works Agency (NWA). It has not gone on deaf ears; I’m paying very close attention to it,” he said.
Holness noted, however, that while contractors complain that big construction companies, like China Harbour Engineering Company, “are getting all the work”, he questioned whether local contractors are “making the investments in our own construction companies for the management [and] level of engineering that is needed, holding the managers in your companies to account, sticking to deadlines, and respecting the right of the public to enjoy the thoroughfare even if it is under construction”.
He noted that the process to change the culture of contractors will, therefore, start with the nation’s engineering agency, the NWA, to “start putting in place, the rules”.
“The NWA has to step up its game. The old way in which we did business cannot carry the level of work that is going to take place in the months coming” Holness said.
“Eventually, we want to see contractors who can stand toe-to-toe with China Harbour and bid for large contracts, not just in Jamaica but anywhere,” he added.