Building Contractors A Dime A Dozen In Barbados

MORE THAN 300 companies listed as contractors with the Urban Development Commission (UDC), have been purged from the list mainly because of shoddy work and incorrect or “not in service” telephone numbers. The action was taken after the UDC board ordered MORE THAN 300 COMPANIES listed as contractors with the Urban Development Commission (UDC), have been purged from the list mainly because of shoddy work and incorrect or “not in service” telephone numbers.

Source: Nation News

Recently Barbadians witnessed the sanitizing of a “list” of 300 companies which were previously approved by government to benefit from building contracts. BU is heartened that Sir Henry Forde would have finally come to the realization that the UDC must make things more efficient. Barbadians have had many concerns over the years about goings-ons at the UDC. Many examples in the media and by word of mouth are well documented. Some of the 300 hundred companies which we know of lead us to conclude that that the government with an election on the horizon had no choice but “throw-out some dirty water to avoid smelling stink down the road”.

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Why would the UDC have 506 contractors on a list?

What we know is that many individuals, note we did not say Barbadians, have used their relationships with the UDC over the years to benefit financially in a very significant way. We don’t buy the reason laid in the article that the list is being purged “because of shoddy work and incorrect or “not in service” telephone numbers” it is not the only reason! BU like many Barbadians know of people who have day jobs but have established companies on the side to trap work from the UDC and several other government departments. The irony is that many of the “hobby” construction companies are staffed by the large Guyanese and other immigrant population which is currently overwhelming the island. Another characteristic of note is that many of these fast food construction companies are owned by politicians and or their friends and relatives. It leads BU to speculated that there must be a lot of money and steal in the construction business.

Where are our standards?

It is unacceptable that the much vaunted building code which was drafted in the 90’s, to the best of our investigation, remains in draft. Although some responsible contractors adhere to the draft code, the construction industry generally is driven by greed and profit. The void of standards in the industry has led to the consequential shoddy work and the possibility that Barbados, a country in proximity to the hurricane zone, may have to pay dearly for its recalcitrance. In the USA all artisans and contractors have to be certified and registered. We visited a US website to get a feel of what was required to get a contractor’s license and was amazed at steps which had to be followed. The process is linked to not only ensuring that standards are complied with but there is a clear trail of accountability. In Barbados we are a long way away.

BU understands that government is driven to outsources and partnering with the private sector. We have no problem with this approach. The problem we have is the unwillingness to ensure that the framework within which the building sector must operate is inefficient and is set-up for misappropriation of taxpayers money and a suspect building stock.

Related Stories on BFP:

Fishy Business at Barbados Urban Development Commission

Changes At The Barbados Urban Development Commission…Or So The Rumours Go!

26 thoughts on “Building Contractors A Dime A Dozen In Barbados

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: Accountability in Construction Sector

  2. crossroads~we would want to eyeball as well,hint,hint!

    The many complaints that we read about Caan Understand although under-regulated we can agree with our opinion that it is an inefficient sector stands. Really how can all these fast food contractors be efficient?

  3. Read the Nation Newspaper this week and was pleasantly surprise to see that after all these years of experiencing a building boom, a Barbados Contractors Association has been formed 🙂
    The company was incorporated in June 2007 and the three interim directors are Achal Moorjani, Steve Ifill, and Roger Gill of Rayside. Interesting that with all the White contractors in Barbados non are represented.

  4. David: “Interesting that with all the White contractors in Barbados none are represented.” Now I don’t quite know how to take that remark! Are you glad/sorry/indifferent at that fact? It is a debatable issue.

  5. Thistle~its a casual observation in the absence of all the info.
    If we consider that the Rotherley, COW etc carry great influence in Barbados , BU acknowledges it is a step in the right direction but at this stage must sadly admit it is a toothless tiger..

  6. David, I read that too, but was waiting for someone more knowledgeable than I to comment. I simply cannot understand how the President of the Barbados Contractors’ Association, Achal Moorjani, would be forced to raise such concerns. So WHO is letting these Chinese into Barbados and other Caribbean islands? Do they board a flight from Beijing and fly – via wherever – into the islands and walk past the respective authorities as if they own the place? How is this being allowed to happen? As I said, I am not knowledgeable on these matters, but I do have a little common sense!

  7. [Interesting that with all the White contractors in Barbados none are represented].
    David this is as true a reflection of Barbados as it gets.

  8. What I find amazing with blogs is the number of statements made “as fact” and the resulting misinformation spread as a result.”David” has made a comment about none of the white contractors being represented by the newly formed Contractors association.Was he present at any meetings?Does he know the makeup of the association?Where does he get his information. As a builder (who just, by the way,happens to be white)and a member of the association, the makeup is mixed with both large and small builders represented, black and white. Too bad no one bothered to check.The issues facing the industry in Barbados are many fold, foirst and foremost the offering of contracts to the Chinese who functionally use slave labour to undercut the local firms as well as the fact that they contribute nothing to the tax base while reaping huge profits.It is interesting to note the contracts to the Chinese for the building of the NUPW headquarters at Dalkeith(no protests from membership there) as well as the use of the Chinese company for low income housing for the BWU………..hmmmm……… Bajan labour used for a BWU project. Could it be? Things just get “curiouser and curiouser”

  9. Builderman~glad to have your comments and to represent a “white”perspective.

    It seems that when the issue of race comes up rationality goes through the window. The comment which we made centered around the composition of the directorship of the newly set-up company of the Barbados Contractors Association. i.e. Achal Moorjani, Steve Ifill, and Roger Gill of Rayside. As far as we are concerned these are not the heavy weights in the industry and it is this point which we wanted to stress. So we should not get side tracked with the red herring argument of race. It is no secret that many of the black contractors have had some issues with the large contractors. We will not pursue this matter for now but we know of stories where black contractors have expended large sums of money when sub-contracted by large white contractors to be left holding the bag.

  10. Sir Leroy Trotman angrily dismissed accusation of BWU using Chinese labour. Why should we believe you? Are you doing what you accuse blogs of, spreading misinformation.

    my post meant for builderman.

  11. Because Sir Roy says it it is true?Since when were such pronouncements verified? Glad to be here David……..when done Barbados is my home and we all have to play our part.I re-read your initial post and still feel it left the impression that the “white” contractors were not represented. The interim directors were chosen among those who were there from the beginning and vetted by all present. When the permanent board is elected,I am confident there will be directors of every hue. I can look around and see Moorjani hoarding all over the island and a very strong presence of Rayside as well (which as a builder I can tell you I am very grateful for as viable competition to other giants was sorely needed in Barbados). Steve Ifill has also proven himself as a large contractor as well.The bottomline facing us as builders is the fact that those in a place of authority are using the Chinese as it suits them, with little regard for any Barbadian interests, whether it be labour or management/owners. We can bury our heads in the sands or we can face it head on.Eyewitness……looking forward to talking again.

  12. Builderman~we will monitor to see how this group effect change in the construction sector. We are still concern that the interim directors would reflect those who were present initially. Why weren’t the white contractors present at the start-up meetings? We know that COW and other white companies have the ear of the political directorate so we question their commitment to any such association but we shall see.

    BU wish you guys luck!

  13. Thanks for the well wishes…………one point of correction…………the initial meetings were well attended by all contractors white and black(and asian). I am aware of contractors (non white)with significant political connection as well, who have landed significant contracts (far larger than I have ever undertaken) for many years and have done very well over this time. There is so much work on the island now that we can all make a go of it, however, all we ask for a is a level playing field with those coming in to compete. It would be like the West Indies spotting Australia 100 runs an innings in a test match.

  14. Wish you luck because the cost to build in Barbados makes the Chinese attractive, too attractive to refuse. Personnally I don’t see how local contractors can compete.

  15. builderman I would believe Trotman any day of week before you and yours. What Trotman states can be verified. You have proof that he is fibbing? Bring it.

  16. This issue to me is much bigger than just Chinese cheap labour.

    Anonymous to answer your question, I would rather bite a bullet shot from a high-powered rifle than to have Chinese build anything that I would have to live in and to a lesser extent a building I must frequent. Their building standards are way below ours because the workers are not “construction workers” but might be some other type of labour. Take a good look at any of the buildings that they have constructed and see if they have stood the test of time.

    Why I say that this issue is bigger than just cheap Chinese labour is that this question crossed my mind.

    What would cause a little island like Barbados, and some of the other islands to have a problem with migrant workers from a culture and a land that is as far away from us as the east is from the west.

    Secondly why are the people who should be the watch dogs over these things so silent. People like the Unions for instance.

    Thirdly why have the builders in Barbados waited until crisis time to stand together, all along isms and cisms reigning. Still good that they finally get together, but it might be too late, this tide wasn’t now in coming the sea was drawing back a long time ago.

    How does the world view us as a Nation, for our demographics, size and location, how the heck did we get so mixed up with China. Somebody give a truthful answer please.

    It seems to me, from looking at Mr. Lynch in today’s paper that we have sold our very soul for a leather bag, a big gold ring and a fancy suit.

    This issue is bigger than we know it is like the iceberg that sunk the titanic.

  17. builderman~do you care to shed any light on the disagreement which steve ifill and Sir Cow & Co have ongoing with the Millennium Heights project? Based on what we heard Ifill was taken to the cleaners on that project. It is a good thing that his party is in power because that saved him. The reason that we tabled this issue has to do with the challenge which your association will have to build trust between the large white contractor like Sir Cow and Ifill a mid-size black operator who are in a stand-off position at the moment.

  18. wish I had more info on that saga but can find out.This is not the first outing for a contractors association in Barbados, and it was not succesful because too many agendas were on the table at once and to0 many egos at hand. We will see if this situation brings all the parties together. As one who has a heart for this country, we need to make this work now……..all the issues you mentioned need addressing as you say and hopefully will.

  19. David…………maybe we should just allow the Chinese in and everyone go home.I don’t know about you, but me in my simplistic way of thinking, albeit hopeful,believes something has to be done. If everyone accepts the staus quo nothing will ever change………….like just about every other mess facing this country now. Its time for people to stop sticking their heads in the sand.As for COW and Ifill…………every dog has his day…………believe it.

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