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February 23, 2007

Michael Gibson has been bowled out. His firm, Gibson Construction Ltd. (GCL) which was hired to construct the new double-decker stand at the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex has been fired from the job, and the veteran contractor of 21 years is confused about the timing of the decision.

Gibson told SEARCHLIGHT that he received a letter by fax on Monday evening stating that he had been fired for “non performance.”{{more}}

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of Cricket World Cup, Mike Findlay told SEARCHLIGHT that Gibson had repeatedly missed deadlines and has even failed to do work based on revised instructions issued by LOC’s architects, TVA consultants, on January 26.

“Our architects issued an architect’s instruction to GCL outlining the alternative measures to be undertaken immediately. No work was done in accordance to those instructions,” Findlay said.

Findlay said that because of the missed deadlines, the completion of the double-decker stand had become critical, hence the decision taken to relieve the firm of that part of their contract.

Along with the double-decker stand, Gibson had also been contracted to work on the media centre and the new bleachers’ section, which were all running behind schedule.

The media centre was to be completed by last November, the bleachers since last April, while December 31st was the original deadline set for the double-decker stand.

While admitting that he was behind schedule, Gibson told SEARCHLIGHT that if he was fired four or five months ago the LOC would have had a case.

“But now, when the stand is 94 per cent ready, why now,” he asked, adding that what upset him also was the unprofessional way in which his company was dismissed.

Gibson said that according to the contract, he should have been dismissed by registered mail. He however said that when he received the notice, his men stopped working and started moving some materials from the site on Tuesday.

“They brought police to stop me from moving the material,” he said.

But Findlay said that the faxed letter was sent “to get it to him as soon as possible but the original was to follow,” so he did not understand Gibson’s concerns.

The former West Indies wicketkeeper who had warned in November that he was willing to make unpopular decisions to ensure that the venue was ready for the World Cup said that several key aspects of the work at the double-decker stand remained unfinished.

“The most critical areas requiring urgent attention are the concourse under the double-decker pavilion and the area behind the pavilion on the ground level which must be cleared of all construction material and debris to enable work on the roadway under the pavilion as well as the broadcast compound to proceed,” Findlay said

He also identified the toilets, window systems and side wall as sore points.

The International Cricket Conference (ICC) inspection team had expressed its total disappointment at the pace of progress of the stand in November.

“We have to be frank, we are disappointed in how it’s coming along,” ICC’s Venues Development Officer Don Lockerbie had said.

“I would have been handing it over within the two weeks, some of our set back was the late instructions we got from the architects,” Gibson claimed.

“There were several attempts made to remove us before and I am trying to understand why,” Gibson said.

Gibson is adamant that his company did well against the odds. He claimed that several things, including late placement of the steel structure, cement and labour shortage hindered his progress.

“My workers feel betrayed after working so hard,” he said and told SEARCHLIGHT that he is weighing his options as regards his plan of action.

“I am playing it by ear,” he said, adding that it was the first time in his career that he had suffered such an indignity.

Findlay however said that the contract had been turned over to a new company, OECC, the company that constructed the players’ pavilion and the administration building.

The firm which began work last Wednesday, has given the LOC the assurance that the double-decker stand will be ready by February 25, in time for the official opening ceremony for the reopening of the Arnos Vale Sporting Complex on February 27.

“We have tried with Gibson, but each time he kept missing completion dates,” said Findlay, who also stated that the LOC might have waited too long to make this crucial move.