Express Business Filler #1

NAMALCO’s project director Lenny Sookram has continued to dispel accusations that the La Brea-based contracting company was “reckless” when it submitted “over-inflated claims” to the Estate Management Business Development Company (EMBD) for infrastructural works carried out at six locations over a five-year period beginning in 2010.

Instead, Sookram said Namalco was fair in fulfilling its contractual obligations and had even taken it upon itself to carry out functions it was not required to in an attempt to have the projects move forward.

“I do not think we were reckless at all. In fact, we were trying to be helpful,” said Sookram, while under cross-examination at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.

He was being questioned by EMBD’s lead attorney Jonathan Davis, QC, in a claim brought by Namalco against EMBD for the non-payment of $1.3 billion Namalco said it was being owed.

That trial started on Tuesday and is expected to last for close to a month. It is being regarded as one of the biggest civil trials in this country’s history with approximately 450,000 pages of evidence.

EMBD is resisting the claim, contending that Namalco was seeking to recover funds for works it did not carry out.

But in his cross-examination, Sookram denied this was the case. He pointed out that increased costs were incurred by Namalco in completing the projects.

For instance, Sookram said survey data at one of the sites did not match up to the site conditions.

“When we went to the site and surveys were conducted, nothing matched up. We had to adjust various profiles, so we had a lot of re-work to do. When we adjusted the sewer, after that was complete, we then had to rework the drainage,” he said.

Sookram added that Namalco would have also made claims for works that were omitted that resulted in Namalco suffering loses in overhead costs.

As Davis continued his line of questioning in the claims made, Sookram said it was open to EMBD to question the sums being claimed.

“They can make a request for a review but they never raised any concerns,” he stated.

Inflated invoices?

According to its claim, Namalco said the contracts provided for it to carry out and complete works to the design specification of EMBD and/or its engineer.

Those works were to be evaluated by the engineer, with payment being made from time to time upon the issue of interim payment certificates (IPCs).

Namalco claims that under the FIDIC Conditions, EMBD was obligated to pay the amount certified in each IPC within a specified number of days after receipt of certain stipulated documentation. The same overall regime was applicable to the Final Payment Certificate. In turn, EMBD has brought claims against four ancillary defendants seeking indemnity or contribution should it be adjudged as liable to Namalco.

Those defendants are Andrew Walker, Atlantic Project Consultants Ltd, BBFL Civil Ltd and Lee Young and Partners.

In its defence and counter-claim, EMBD is contending that the sums certified in relation to the contracts are not binding and are susceptible to challenge.

It is arguing that the invoices were inflated and that the fees have to be reduced to take into account deficiencies in the quality of the work.

The six sites involved in the lawsuit are located in Mahaica, Brickfield, Cedar Hill, Roopsingh Road, Petite Morne and Picton, Monkey Town.

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