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eTecK waives fees for China Jiangsu

By Andre Bagoo Thursday, July 31 2008

THE HIGH-TECH $200 million Tamana flagship complex of the Evolving Technologies and Enterprise Development Company Limited (eTecK) is facing birthing pains and is granting a waiver to contractors China Jiangsu to get the project moving.

The building, one of the Government’s key planks for its development goals and only 40 percent complete, was expected to have been delivered since February this year.

But with its contractors experiencing difficulties sourcing resources such as labour and materials, work on the project has been brought to a trickle and China Jiangsu has missed the completion deadline.

As a result of this, a standard contractual penalty clause for late delivery of the project has been triggered.

Now, in a frantic bid to get the project back on stream, eTecK has signalled its intention to grant China Jiangsu a waiver of penalty fees that it has incurred.

“We want to see this project completed and we are willing to facilitate China Jiangsu,” said sources who have ties close to the project.

Sources said both parties were “in talks” to iron out a deal that would allow the project to continue apace.

This waiver is estimated at millions of dollars which China Jiangsu might not have to pay if eTecK sticks to its decision. The feeling is that China Jiangsu is being granted preferential treatment by eTecK in order to get the contractors to complete the project.

According to sources close to the project, this penalty fee is around $10,000 per day of late delivery, putting the total penalty incurred by China Jiangsu up to now at around $1.5 million.

However, the project is estimated to require roughly ten months for actual completion, making it possible for the final penalty fee to come in at around $5 million but this could go even higher if the project takes longer to complete.

Sources this week told Business Day that the management of eTecK are so adamant to get the now-stalled project back on track that they are willing to waive the penalties.

Up to this week, work on the state-of-the-art facility remained slow.

In May, Khalid Hassanali, the eTecK president, said work at the site of the project had slowed because China Jiangsu was experiencing difficulties with the sourcing of labour.

“The concrete works are finished. It’s just that the rest of the work that has to be done by subcontractors has to be finished,” Hassanali had said.

These included the completion of curtain walls and the installation of elevators.

Hassanali also revealed that China Jiangsu has approached eteck asking for $50 million more for the project when they encountered difficulties.

But this request was withdrawn after eteck pointed out that the project was a fixed price contract.

“We very jealously guard public funds,” Hassanali noted.

Local contractors also later complained that poor management and a shortage of adequate tools remained hurdles to the project’s timely completion.

They also complained about delays in the allocation of funding to cover costs for infrastructural work, attributing this to poor project management. Workers at the site have also complained that some of the tools they have been using are outdated.

The foundation-laying ceremony for the Tamana flagship complex was held on April 2, 2007. It is to consist of two buildings: a north and south block.

The eTecK headquarters will be housed in the south block and the north block is carded to be a tenant building consisting of Grade A office space that will be available for lease.

The tenant building is to be a three-storied structure with each floor being approximately 1,400 square metres. The ground floor is carded to house meeting rooms, a large dining area and a reception area.

It is to be part of the Tamana In Tech Park alongside a recreation complex, a UTT Campus and knowledge-based zone, a UTT signature building, an interpretation centre, a park and community service centre as well as zones from high-value manufacturing, agro-technology and information technology services.

The flagship complex, once completed, is expected to become the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and Smart Green Building of Trinidad and Tobago. LEED certified buildings use key resources more efficiently when compared to conventional buildings which are simply built to code.

The flagship building is expected to have responsible energy use with external shading, high efficiency building envelopes, and feature a solar cooling system with photovoltaic panels which will make full use of solar energy. It will also feature a high-tech air conditioning system which will utilise 100 percent fresh air in conjunction with CO2 sensors to maximise indoor air quality.

The complex is also billed to employ a sophisticated system of remote monitoring with occupancy sensors increasing, the efficiency of the buildings lighting, ventilation and air- conditioning systems.

However, these benefits do come with added cost.

Green buildings cost more both to design and to construct when compared to conventional buildings. Further some of the finer points of LEED certification (especially those which demand a higher-than-orthodox standard of service from the construction team) could possibly lead to misunderstandings between design and construction teams, and the client, which could result in delays.

According to eTeck, the building is expected to obtain LEED silver certification, the third highest certification in the LEED system out of four possible ranks. So that spiralling construction costs, due in part to the overheating of the local construction sector, has hit what is already a very ambitious project.

The question that now remains is how soon can the project be finished and how far will eTecK go to get the job on their signature building?

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