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BERMUDA | Overseas consultants review controversial airport deal

Transport Minister Walter Roban says Bermuda’s controversial airport redevelopment deal is under review. Transport Minister Walter Roban says Bermuda’s controversial airport redevelopment deal is under review.
HAMILTON, Bermuda, Oct 24, CMC  –  Transport Minister Walter Roban says Bermuda’s controversial airport redevelopment deal is under review by an international firm of consultants.

The review was ordered by the new Progressive Labour Party (PLP) government and is being carried out by the Bermuda Airport Authority and US-based global consultants LeighFisher.

“Our goal is to finish by December,” said Robin.

Walter Roban

The public-private partnership agreement to build a new airport terminal, signed by the former One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) administration with Canadian Commercial Corporation and its contractor, Aecon, came under fire from the PLP while in opposition.

But former premier Michael Dunkley on Monday said that the OBA plan was “the best deal for Bermuda” and accused the PLP of resorting to “Trump-like” misinformation.

Work on the US$302 million terminal began in April and is due to be completed by 2020.

Roban said the assessment of the agreement started just after the PLP came to power after it thrashed the OBA in July’s general election, with LeighFisher contracted four to six weeks ago.

He could not provide a figure for the potential cost of scrapping the deal, saying that would be “hypothetical” until the review was finished.

“As opposition we expressed our dissatisfaction with this arrangement, and as Government our dissatisfaction remains,” Roban said, and noted that Bermudians wanted a new airport, but that the Aecon deal was one that “we were forced to accept, as the project was not opened to other bidders”.

“When a significant amount of people expressed their disapproval, they were ignored.”

Dunkley said due diligence had been carried out by the OBA from the start, which included engagement with the British government.

He added that an independent panel set up to review the deal had declared it “not perfect, but it is a good deal” and said that it had been approved by organisations such as the Bermuda Tourism Authority, the Bermuda Hotel Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers.

“Any government has the right and ability to review a contract or policy.

“However, in this matter the PLP opposed the project from the beginning and often spread misinformation and employed Trump-like tactics to divide people and confuse the issue.

“It was not about what is best for Bermuda but about how to get elected,” the former Premier said.

The deal was struck in 2014 by the OBA government, but the start of the project was hit by a number of delays, including a protest outside the House of Assembly last December.

The protest, in which police in riot gear used pepper spray to help disperse the demonstrators, forced then Speaker of the House Randy Horton to adjourn parliament until February, when the project was eventually approved by parliament.

  • Countries: Bermuda