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Braco gets green light- Judge turns down application to halt tender process

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 12:00 AMBarbara Gayle
An aerial view of the Braco property

The Government has been given the green light to continue the bidding process for infrastructure improvement at the Braco Hotel in Trelawny, which has been closed since May 2013.

The improvement project has been stalled since late last year, following a lawsuit brought by two bidders against the National Investment Fund Resort Management Company Limited - a subsidiary of the National Insurance Fund (NIF) and the Attorney General.

Last week, the Supreme Court turned down an application by the two bidders, Build -Rite Construction Company Limited and GM Associates Limited, which brought the lawsuit.

The bidders were seeking leave to go to the Judicial Review Court to get declarations and orders but Justice Kissock Laing turned down their application.

According to Patrick Foster QC who represents the management company: "The NIF is pleased with the outcome. The refurbishing project was stalled by an injunction which was granted to the bidders in December last year, but now that the injunction is lifted, the NIF can proceed with the refurbishing".

Laing, in his written reasons, highlighted the fact that the Government has been losing more than $300 million annually since the closure of the hotel which was once a thriving resort.

The judge pointed out that there were efforts aimed at applying a tourniquet to stem the loss of money and a management agreement was entered with the Spanish hotel chain Melia Hotels International on November 19, 2013.


Refurbishing project


As part of the effort to get the hotel re-opened the management company was required to effect a refurbishing project. It engaged the services of Michael Robinson and Associates, quantity surveyors, to oversee the project and assist in the tender process for a qualified contractor.

The two applicants submitted their bids in the July 2014 tender process, but when their sealed bids were opened on August 26, they were disqualified.

Build-Rite was disqualified because it had stated that it would complete the project in six months rather than the four months stipulated in the tender particulars. GM and Associates was not recommended for the project because it was contended that it did not have the experience and capacity to carry out both phases of the construction.

Faced with one bidder, the management company terminated the bidding process and commenced a second tender process in October 2014. The two companies then took the issue to court, contending that they have been unfairly treated.

They sought leave to go to Judicial Review Court to get declarations that the cancellation of the first tender process was unlawful, unreasonable and not in accordance with the procedures in the Government of Jamaica Handbook on Public Sector Procurement Procedures.

They were also seeking injunctions to stop the second bidding process but Laing turned down their applications. The judge said the decision to terminate the first bidding process was a prudent one.