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Contractors fearful of bidding on inner-city projects

Published:Friday | November 8, 2019 | 12:44 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

Contractors have grown wary of bidding for contracts in inner-city communities across the island because of security concerns, says Lenworth Kelly, president of the Incorporated Masterbuilders Association of Jamaica (IMAJ).

Kelly said that contractors who choose to bid for these projects often have to demand more funds because of the inflationary effect of crime.

“One of the things contractors will do is – in terms of the security components of their projects – they will price higher for security to provide security for your place whether you’re using a formal security firm or other armed personnel, but you certainly have to cover your bases. There are some people who won’t go work in certain areas,” he said.

The IMAJ president was speaking to The Gleaner yesterday after presenting at the second International Built Environment Conference at the University of Technology, Jamaica, in Papine, St Andrew.


Kelly’s views align with comments on October 24 by former Contractor General Dirk Harrison, who detailed how the pockets of local contractors are raided by politicians, the police, and dons, although already faced with stiff competition from foreigners who enjoy vast concessions.

Harrison, who resigned in September from the Integrity Commission as acting director of corruption prosecutions, said that he knew of contractors who refused to vie for government contracts because it was no longer profitable for them because of endemic corruption between the processes of bidding and competition.

He said that due to these same security concerns, what happens in some instances is that contractors may decide not to respond to tenders at all.

According to Kelly, construction opportunities in high-risk areas sometimes do not make economic sense.

“You have to pay too much attention to security and pilferage, and that sort of thing, and it will set you back. So some people just don’t go there. And what the Government may find is a situation where ... either there is no response to the bids, or the bids are extremely high because of the security component,” Kelly explained.