Friday, January 13, 2012

On one controversial topic I think I do have all my ducks in a row: That would be the provincial oil tank replacement program. Talk about convoluted and bad policy decisions as it pertains to Northern Labrador.
Personally I have not problem with having a safe and environmentallysecure oil tank. It was the long drawn out process and the somewhat arbitrary way government went about it. Plus the famous [due diligence] that the present premier used to go on about that was not evident as it pertains to Northern Labrador that miffed most people.
I could go on and on with the links, but you get the point I hope.

Initially no consideration was given to our remote location, cost of shipping, availability of qualified people to do the job or the insistence on qualified inspectors, non were available in Labrador in the early years of the program. Miraculously in the lead up to the last election these qualified people were discovered, though not without a hiccup.

The hiccup was that we were initially contacted by phone and by mail of the availability of the program and explaining that the government would help to defray some of the costs. Also that if we did not update or replace our oil tanks then they would be deemed illegal and it would be breaking the law to fill them.

Seeing that I needed a new oil tank any way I signed on to the program with the understanding that the cost would be $1,800:00 for the tank, parts, shipping, pre inspection, installation and post inspection.

Then just prior to the last election [is there a coincidence forming?] we received a phone call from the same civil servant as previous informing us of the good news that seeing as the lowest bid for the instillation and post inspections had come in under estimate we now only had to pay $1, 000:00, a saving of $800:00.
Subsequently I had a conversation with the then MHA [now ex MHA] and a big deal was made about the good fortune of us only having to pay $1,000:00 now.

Fast forward to after the last election.

Not having any contact personally from the government officials, and seeing as winter was fast approaching and no details of timing of installation had been forth coming I took the liberty of phoning the winning bid firm in Goose Bay.

I was shocked when told that that firm was no longer interested in the contract, after some questioning I was told the reasons were complicated and that the government was being unreasonable and the like.

In the next couple of days we hear via the media {no personal contact this time] that ooops, the low bid contractor was no longer available to do the work so another contractor was chosen [the next lowest bidder we were told] and that now we were up for an extra $800:00, the total amount of the original deal.

Needless to say the doo doo hit the fan big time.

Still no contact from government officials: So I fire off an e mail to the newly elected MHA for Menihek and newly appointed minister for Labrador and aboriginal affairs.

The responding e mail was full of bureaucratic stuff justifying the government’s incompetence with no apologies for misleading the public with the phone call promising the $1, 000:00 price tag. And most of all no apologies for not doing due diligence prior to selecting the original contractor, you see the minister/government said publicly that the original winning bid contractor did not have the qualifications to carry out the work.

So now I have the oil tank installed, it was done this past Tuesday. Still no contact from any government official, I’m not sure if any one else has had contact but I would doubt it.  

There are some issues that still need to be talked about, mainly to hopefully avoid all the pit falls and incompetence’s of the last several years in developing this program. I know, it is fruitless some will say. But I am a great believer [though at times a non believer] that things can change and governments will do what is right and fair for constituents.

I think one thing that needs looking at is why local contractors or individuals could not have carried out the installation work. I am sure each community has those individuals, you just had to take the time to seek them out and with minimal training or instruction they would be more than capable of doing the work.
If a little younger and with a good back I could have done the work myself. I know for sure there are people here who could do the work and need the work.

This could have lowered the cost significantly. No travel costs, no hotel and meals to pay for the two individuals who came in from Goose Bay to do the work.

My guesstimet is that in the 6 grand region could have been saved for Nain alone. I guess the airline and hotel operators would be a little unhappy, but I am sure they would consider the greater good.

Even with government insistence on pre and post inspection local people could have been certified to do that work. 

By the way NL government is not the only one with such a program.

I also think that the 200 or so gallon tank supplied is too big for this area. More and more people cannot afford to fill these tanks as the price of oil increases. Only very few can afford the $1,400:00 plus to fill these things. I know there are environmental 100 gallon tanks on the market, why not the choices?
Again the lack of consideration for the geographics and logistics of our location.

To top all that off we will now have a situation where some people [a minority in this town] will have legal oil tanks and the rest will not have legal oil tanks. What will the government do then one wonders?

For now that’s it from me and that’s it from him.


Old Brooktrout said...


I bid on a lot of contracts all over the North, mostly in the research services sphere of activity. It's as simple as making a line item in a request for proposals (RFP) and then following it through in the proposal assessment that the application's local content delivery (the use of local contractors, training, etc...) will be weighted alongside methodology and cost. In this day and age, applicants need to be told they HAVE to do that.

Brian said...

'as simple as' is not in the vernacular of the NL governments understanding.
It has always bothered me that council, NG etc never make more of a big deal out of this. They say they bring it up at "meetings" but it is never ever applied into practice, except for the odd crumb of low wage low skill jobs.
Makes one wonder if quid pro quo or just milquetoast is to the fore.