The Ministry of Transportation issued a long-awaited press release Friday- late,late Friday – surprising many industry insiders by announcing that the Fraser Transportation Group has been chosen as the preferred bidder and will proceed to the final stage of the procurement process for the South Fraser Perimeter Road project.
I say surprising because many industry insiders thought SNC Lavelin of the Riverway Partnership were shoe-ins following the Port Mann bidding debacle that awarded that project to Kiewit-Flatiron, despite their failure to secure financing as required. Had the MOT deferred to the next best bid when that occurred, SNC would have been building the Port Mann right now, instead of Kiewit. Rumour also had it that SNC had been considering legal recourse because of this, but decided against such action so as not to be blacklisted by the province on other projects- ( See Tercon vs. MOT/Province of BC, to find out what happens to contractors who complain too loudly)
However, there was something else very surprising that I notice in the SFPR Press Release .
VICTORIA – Fraser Transportation Group has been selected to proceed to the next stage of procurement as the preferred proponent for delivery of the next phase of the South Fraser Perimeter Road project. This stage involves detailed negotiations for finalizing a contract.
Fraser Transportation Group includes ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Ledcor Industrial/Mining Group Ltd. as equity partners, and Dragados Canada, Inc, Ledcor CMI Ltd., Belpacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. as the members of the design-build contractor.
There appears to have been a significant change in the make-up of the proponents in the group itself, because in the announcement of the three qualified short-listed bidders, The Fraser Transportation Group looked like this:
Fraser Transportation Group – includes Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras, S.A. of Spain and Zachry American Infrastructure of Texas as equity partners and Dragados S.A. as the lead design build contractor.
Wow. So… Am I right to ask the question : What the heck happened to that pre-qualified bidding group? Iridium( From Spain) and Zachry ( of Texas) are now gone as the equity partners, replaced by ACS infrastructure Canada, and Ledcor Industrial /Mining Group Ltd. That is a complete change from the “Pre-qualified bidders” listed in the original announcement.
Not only that, Dragados Canada were listed as the lead design/build contractor in the original announcement, which now lists Ledcor CMI Ltd., Belpacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. as part of the design-build team.
What happened to the original bidding team? Why the complete change in equity partners? No money? Companies backed out? Call me a cynic, but I would say that Jane Shackell, the ” fairness reviewer” appointed to oversee and monitor the procurement process, has her hands full on this one. One of the most popular blog series I’ve ever written covered the near decade long Tercon vs. BC/MOT lawsuit, in which a change to the makeup of a ” pre-qualified” bidder during the procurement process, ultimately led to a supreme court win for the contractor. In Tercon vs. the MOT/Province of BC, an unqualified contractor was added on as a concealed partner with an already qualified bidder, and this change was subsequently concealed by MOT staff at many different levels to avoid complaints from the other qualified bidders who may have been rightly awarded the MOT job. Full details are in this post, which contains links to the other two parts of the series. https://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2010/02/17/tercon-contracters-ltd-vs-british-columbia-the-rest-of-the-story/
One would certainly hope the province has not overstepped in this case, because this seems to be a significant change to the makeup of the preferred bidder. (Not that I mind seeing smaller local companies doing work, rather than Kiewit and SNC Lavelin- so long as the bidding process was fair, transparent and honest )
Also of extreme importance in this press release is the notation that the SFPR is now slated for completion in 2013, which is a full year behind the original completion date 2012. I stand by my source that the project has been scaled back with significant scope changes and that can only mean one thing. Money. money. money… ( out of interest, click HERE to see political donations by LEDCOR)
While I am on the subject of money, it certainly would seem that Kiewit, the main contractors on the Sea to Sky highway and of course, the Port Mann bridge…. have a hell of a lot of extra money to toss around on campaign contributions -and the timing of them is certainly interesting, to say the least.
|S-A1-A – Your Search Criteria|
|Contributor Name||Date From||Date To||Party|
|S-A1-A – Your Search Results|
|Total Contribution For This Search: $81,575.00|
|Records 1-13 of 13|
Note the rather obese contribution to the BC Liberals mere days after the last election….and in the rest of 2009. Now, call me speculative, but if I were a contractor who had just been chosen to build the Port Mann Bridge, even after my financing fell through,( see link above on Kiewit) and the province went to a great extent to give me that contract, even changing the project from a P3 to a taxpayers fully funded one to do so….. well, I think I would be really appreciative too. Not sure those contributions paid off for the SFPR bid though…lol.
It brings me back full circle to the topic of campaign contributions and conflict of interest which we have been talking about on and off over the past bit. Lets even toss in how they relate to collusion and corruption.
While it is certainly not illegal for any one person, or any company to donate to one political party or another, I find it remarkable that anybody could say these donations, especially such sizable ones such as Kiewit’s, have no bearing or influence, nor do they represent any conflicts in the various situations that invariably pop up along the way.
Poppycock. Do you honestly think a $50 grand donation from Kiewit doesn’t help to grease the wheels along the way? Keep them at the top of the Special Donors list? Of course it does. To think anything else is to be as naive as a new-born babe.
Just for fun, because yeah, I’m kind of geeky that way, I did a bit of an update to a previous list of large donors to the BC Liberals, from their 2007 reported ones. Donors that also seem to get the lucrative government contracts along the way, donors who have boards of directors padded with ex-MLA’s and political movers and shakers.
Donors that know how business works in BC.
* 2009 donation amounts listed only- click on provided link to see past donation history.
Teck Cominco and subsiduaries: $150,800.00
Encana : $118,000.00
Telus : $68,123.52
Aquilini Group : $ 80,700.00
Brookfield Asset Management/ Brookfield Timber Management : $ 60, 000.00 ( note Richard Legault and Barry Blattman, whose names seem to come up in everything Liberal related.
Timberwest: $ 60,988
West Fraser: $ 108,089
Catalyst: $ 24, 500.00 ( guess they couldn’t have been doing too poorly if they could still afford donations to the Liberals…
Jim Pattison Group and Great Pacific Investments: $10,500.oo ( down from previous years)
Well, that’s all folks. If you are an average person like me, this all stinks to high heaven. Smaller companies who can’t , or won’t play the game are getting left out in the cold time and time again. Clearly, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know -and how much you donate to them. Think about that next time you are driving over the Port Mann bridge…