NEWS | Sunday, 25 November 2007

Mugliett denies any connection with firm awarded project management work for Manwel Dimech bridge

Charlot Zahra

Urban Development and Roads Minister Jesmond Mugliett has denied any kind of relationship with his professional partner architect Robert Sant’s company, which was awarded the project management work in connection with the re-building of the Manwel Dimech Bridge.
Asked by MaltaToday whether he could give an assurance that he did not have a direct or indirect connection with Architect Sant’s company – Design and Technical Resources (DTR) Limited – Mugliett said: “Yes I can assure you that”.
Questioned whether he felt uncomfortable with this relationship or not, Mugliett said defensively: “First of all, I do not get involved personally in the management of the project. It is the ADT and its architects who manage the project and speak with them.
“Therefore I do not get involved in any negotiations or discussions that take place with Architect Robert Sant, therefore I do not have to feel uncomfortable.
“The only connection I have with Architect Robert Sant is in a company which merely owns property, as against what many Labour MPs have, who have companies together with contractors. Mine is a company which only has ownership of property and only that,” Mugliett said during a tour of the Manwel Dimech Bridge construction site yesterday morning.
However Robert Sant and Jesmond Mugliett are still partners in the architects’ firm Sant and Mugliett, from which Mugliett still receives a retainer fee of Lm4,000 a year.
Asked about the delay in the completion of the project – of which only half has been completed by the time that the whole project should have now been well and over done with – Mugliett squarely put the blame on the contractor’s shoulders, accusing him of not being “up to the challenge” in providing the materials required for the project and constantly trying to change their specifications to make his life easier.
“While the government understands that there are technological challenges, it is not ready to accept a revised programme of works which goes beyond March next year,” Mugliett insisted.
He said that the claim by the contractor did not have enough plans to carry out the works on them was merely “a ruse by the contractor to try and justify requests for additional payments”.
Mugliett said that until now, only a minimal part of the claims for additional payments made by the contractor have been accepted – until now, the supervisor has accepted only claims worth Lm19,000.
The supervisor then passes on these claims to the ADT, who in turn passes them on to the Contract Department, which has the final say on whether to accept them or not.
In September, Sant’s firm applied for more than Lm150,000 in additional payments in connection with the Manwel Dimech Bridge management contract. This means that the contract, which originally was Lm169,000, will cost over Lm300,000 if the demand is approved.
Mugliett added that the final decision as to whether the contractor is fined or not in connection with the delays on this project is the competence of the Contracts Department, rather than the Ministry or the ADT.
The completed half of the project on the Eastern Side of the bridge will be taking over the traffic flow which is currently passing from the Western Side as from Tuesday morning.


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