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Court orders OAS Construtora to pay $6 million to contractor

Brazilian construction firm OAS Construtora has been ordered to pay over $6 million to a local sub-contractor for the Point Fortin Highway.

KJS Enterprise Company Limited, of Small Trace, Siparia, yesterday obtained a default judgment against the firm after it had failed to file a defence against the company's lawsuit seeking to recover outstanding fees for services it rendered in the construction of the La Brea segment of the over $7 billion project, which is still incomplete.

According to the court order, a copy of which has been obtained by the T&T Guardian,OAS is required to make the payment forthwith or risk the company commencing proceedings to seize its assets to recoup the funds.

"Warning-If you ignore this order your goods may be removed and sold or other enforcement proceedings may be taken against you. If this happens further costs may be added," the order stated.

The company filed the lawsuit in October last year after it had not been paid since completed its services in two months earlier. Under the contract between the two parties, OAS had agreed to make payments within 30 days of the company completing the excavation works.

OAS's woes may be compounded in the next couple of weeks as the T&T Guardian understands that another local sub-contractor Caribbean Welding Supplies Limited has also threatened legal action for a little over $5 million, which it is owed for the rental of equipment to the Brazilian firm.

That company served OAS with its preaction protocol letter on December 17, last year, however, it has agreed to delay filing its case giving OAS an extended deadline to respond, which expires next Thursday.

Both companies are being represented by attorneys Abdel and Shabaana Mohammed, while Steven Singh is representing OAS.

OAS is no stranger to controversy as in late 2014, several executives the construction giant were indicted by Brazilian law enforcement agencies for of making bribe payments to politicians and committing administrative irregularities in several Latin American countries.

Several calls were made to OAS's local offices at Newtown Centre, Maraval Road, Port-of-Spain, yesterday for a response to the default judgment. However, there was no response.

The highway project is a reportedly only a little over 50 per cent complete and has been marred with controversy since it commenced in 2011. Construction had to be delayed on several occasions due to protest action at various sites taken by the Highway Reroute Movement (HRM), who opposed it based on environmental concerns and issues with the displacement of residents, whose land had to acquired by the Government for construction.

HRM has initiated a constitutional motion challenging Government's decision to construct the highway, which is currently before High Court Judge James Aboud and is yet to go on trial.

Shortly after assuming office last year, Finance Minister Colm Imbert revealed that the project was in jeopardy his predecessor Larry Howai made no financial arrangements were made for works to continue beyond October. He told Parliament at Government was seeking ways of finding funding to complete the project but gave no assurances as to when it will be done.


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