Contractor Al Barrack now 5 million dollars richer
Contractor Al Barrack now has five million reasons to smile.
In an unprecedented move, he took matters into his own hands and locked down the Warrens Office Complex, displacing scores of civil servants for close to three hours.
In response, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman offered firm assurances to the angry contractor that he would get at least a portion of the $75 million owed to him by close of business today.
Barbados TODAYhas since learned that while the contractor was expecting $7 million, the actual amount deposited into his account was $5 million.
Sources also said that to pay the remainder of the settlement, Cabinet has proposed to hand over the building, which is worth $60 million, to Barrack and lease it back from him, with the residual amount to be paid in stages.
“All of this has to be sanctioned by the court,” the source said.
When contacted this evening, Barrack said he was yet to check his account but he was willing to take the Government at its word.
This was in stark contrast to his mood earlier in the day when, around 6:20 am, he chained and padlocked the two entrances to the complex that houses 17 Government departments, including the offices of the Barbados Tourism Authority, the HV/AIDS Department, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Social Care.
Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman expressed surprise that Barrack had taken the drastic step to lock down the building, noting that they had been talking with him all along.
He said Government would not pursue any legal action against Barrack for his actions, but warned others to whom the Government was indebted not to follow Barrack’s lead.
“I would not advise anybody to take [this action]. . . I can’t guarantee anybody that I will follow through on how I followed through on this one,” Kellman told Barbados TODAY
Since 2006, Government was ordered to pay Barrack what was then $34 million for his part in completing the Warrens Officer Complex. After he did not get his money, Barrack had threatened to take over the building and sell it to recoup his money. However, he did not follow through on any of his threats until today when he declared that he had had enough.
“It is more than time. I am a human being. I have a wife [and] she has to bathe like any other woman. She got to eat. Gosh man. They can’t do things like that to everybody man,” Barrack lamented, as he painted a picture of financial difficulty for himself and his family.
Under the watchful eye of members of the Royal Barbados Police Force attached to the District “A” Police Station, he told reporters his water supply had been disconnected for non-payment of $35 and he had to pay a further $60 dollars to have it restored.
“You can’t owe Government. They will cut you off but they can owe you . . . I have legal possession of this building. The Government gave me possession of this building in 2009. The Cabinet of Barbados gave me the building on 2009 and they told me it was irreversible. I sat there and waited for six years,” Barrack said.
“I didn’t want to do this but I had to do it because you all doan care if I eat or not. This is all I work for in my entire life. I am almost 80 years old and you paying games with my life. Y’all messing me up. How I gon’ eat?” he queried.
The contractor said even though he could be vindictive and evict those occupying the building, he would not, although he was upping his ante by not only claiming the building but the rent as well.
Soon after Kellman arrived around 8:20 am, Barrack retired to a corner to talk to him. The discussion at times became heated with the contractor telling the media that the minister had at one time threatened him with arrest if he did not take the chains off the door.
After near an hour of back and forth and heated phone calls, the two retreated to the side of the building to Barrack’s vehicle.
“I have been Minister for only one year and 14 years predates the DLP and as you would appreciate this is a time of a crisis and we have been keeping our word and we said that we will settle the matter and we will settle the matter,” Kellman said as Barrack sat in his vehicle writing his bank details on a piece of paper which he later passed on to the minister.
The chains were removed from the doors of the complex at 9:05 am, allowing Government workers to being the day’ work.
A visibly happier Barrack declared that he had reached an agreement and he was more satisfied than he had been at the start of the day.
“I was given that assurance [that I would get my money today] and I don’t want to be hostile. Why should I be? You have to trust people . . . [I spoke to] the Finance Minister and a figure was agreed upon,” he said.