Come again, Minister Kellman, and bring an apology and our money with you!
That was the message today from small contractors building low-income houses for the National Housing Corporation in response to criticism from Minister of Housing Denis Kellman in the Sunday Sun yesterday.
So upset are the builders that the minister suggested the the slow pace of work was their fault, that they are now planning to form an association to represent themselves. One angry member of the group told Barbados TODAY that if they don’t get an apology from Kellman they are prepared to demonstrate in front of the NHC’s headquarters on Country Road to show their dissatisfaction.
“The public of Barbados needs to know that much of what was published was simply not correct,” said one contractor who asked not to be identified for fear of recriminations.
“What the minister should have told the public is that for all the years Michael Lashley was Minister of Housing we never had a problem getting paid. We did the work, the valuations were done and we got our money quick time.
“But since the general election and since Kellman was appointed Minister of Housing and Lands we have not been paid once — not one single time. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that no work of any consequence is taking place at any of the sites simply because the contractors don’t have the money to continue.”
Another contractor, agreeing that they had been waiting months for money, said he understood that just last week the signature that officers were awaiting to facilitate payment was affix.
“I agree! Everything was going smooth when Lashley was the minister. We did not have one problem,” a contractor said. “All our problems started with Kellman.
“And quite frankly it puzzles me how we could have so many homes completed and signed off by the NHC management and now the new minister wants to talk about shoddy work. Is he saying that the former minister was incompetent; or that the NHC’s management does not know what it is doing?”
One of the contractors who had signed on to build nearly 20 houses at Lancaster II in St. James and Parish Land, St. Philip said the sum outstanding to him from the NHC was over $100,000. In one project, he said, he had just one house left to be completed, while in the other he was working on three that were only assigned to him after he had completed others.
“Just imagine we have been waiting for payment since February and they can only sign off on it a week ago,” one of the builders said. “But yet they want to place blame on us. We are having none of it!” (RRM)