Robinson attacks new arbitration centre deal

  • Dwayne Robinson, a One Bermuda Alliance senator
  • David Burt, the Premier, Ottiwell Simmons, veteran union leader, Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the Minister of Public Works, and representatives of Milhouse Engineering and Construction break ground on the new Ottiwell Simmons International Arbitration Centre (Photograph by Owain Johnston-Barnes)

Bermudians have been left in the dark about the development of a new arbitration centre, an opposition senator has claimed.

Dwayne Robinson said, although ground was broken on the Ottiwell A Simmons International Arbitration Centre on Tuesday, the Government had yet to detail the financial agreements for the project.

Mr Robinson questioned what the terms of the public-private partnership with Chicago-based Milhouse Engineering and Construction were and what the total payback for the project would be.

He said: “How many millions of dollars will be paid to a US firm and not a Bermudian firm?

“The PLP just pledged to support local entrepreneurs and minority businesses, so why wasn’t this project given to a local company? How is this putting Bermudians first?

“What plan does the Government have to ensure that this project will pay for itself? If it is not used as well as hoped, will Government make up any revenue shortfall?”

Mr Robinson accused the Government of hypocrisy for its repeated attacks on the airport redevelopment project as it moved forward with an “almost identical deal”.

He said: “People can quote the airport contract and details to base their arguments whether they are in support of it or not.

“Try your best to quote some details about this PLP deal with Milhouse. Whether it is a good deal or not, the way it was conceived should concern every Bermudian.”

Mr Robinson said the Progressive Labour Party government had benefited from capital projects launched under the One Bermuda Alliance and “record-breaking tourism numbers”.

He added: “This is not tit-for-tat politics. I am in no way trying to justify one deal over the other but this government still acts like an opposition consistently focused on holding the previous government accountable while failing to deliver any real accomplishments to improve the lives of Bermudians.”

But Lieutenant-Colonel David Burch, the public works minister, insisted that he had outlined the process and all available information about the development.

He said: “Under my leadership, the Ministry of Public Works has an excellent record in delivering projects while providing value for taxpayer money.

“This project will be no different and all required tendering processes to ensure the Government gets value for money will be adhered to.

“This project will use local architects, local workers and is supported by our business community.”

Colonel Burch added: “We will create jobs for Bermudians, stimulate our economy and deliver a facility that we can be proud of.

“We are moving forward with economic recovery and will take no lectures from an Opposition that has left the country many bills that we are still paying.”

The Government announced on Tuesday that the financial arrangements for the arbitration centre were at the Ministry of Finance for final approval.

Colonel Burch said after the ground-breaking that the deal was a “rent-to-buy” arrangement which would have no upfront cost to the Government.

Work on the site — at the former Hamilton Police Station near the junction of Reid Street and Parliament Street — is expected to begin in December.