Phase I of the complex, which would have included a new public market, is only 80% complete. Phase 2 (public terminal) and Phase 3 (commercial buildings) have yet to start.
The move came just as the city government and the contractor disagreed on the mode of payment for the latter’s services.
Councilor Roberto Casanova reported to the City Council on April 8 that the city government was awaiting the result of an inventory on the project before the City Engineers' Office would take over the construction work.
"The city government will take over [the project] only after all (legal) processes have been finished," he assured city councillors of the decision of the mayor to take over the implementation of the project.
Mayor Florencio T. Flores, Jr. told radio station DXDB days earlier that the project has stalled and the matter had been referred to the City Legal Office, which in turn, said that an inventory was being done.
H.R. Lopez Co., Inc., which won the bid in 2004 to build the city's new public market, integrated terminal and commercial buildings through a loan from the Land Bank of the Philippines, was not able to complete the project even if it was given five more months to finish or until November 2007.
Casanova, who chairs the City Council's finance committee, said the contractor has allegedly insisted on a lump sum payment scheme while the city government decided to pay per item used only. He said for the initial phase, the city government has paid the firm around P87 million out of P110 million it has initially withdrawn from the LBP loan.
Casanova's committee has been tasked to monitor the three-phase project after it commenced in 2005.
Casanova said the city government did not terminate its contract with the Manila-based construction firm but ended it after the deal to construct the public market expired in November last year.
He said they would claim both insurance and damages from HR Lopez Co. Inc.
"The matter is still with the City Legal Office," he said.
He said the contractor allegedly thumbed down an initial inventory in January this year. "The parties have agreed but the contractor did not sign," he said. "Mao nga naiipit na sad," (That's why it's stalled again) Casanova said.
He said a new round of inventory was conducted with two non-government organizations (NGOs) as third party witnesses. He named a group of local contractors and another, a group of engineers.
Casanova said the project’s contract was ratified in 2002 but was suspended until 2004 over a question on alleged excessive project cost.
The city council has invited representatives from the City Engineers' Office (CEO), the City Legal Office, the City's Biddings and Awards Committee (BAC) and the LBP to its April 15 session to shed light on the issue.
"This matter should be known to the members of the city council and the public so we do away with wrong notions and misinformation," Casanova told the council.
Cassanova said the city government needed to get the green light from agencies such as the Commission on Audit before proceeding with taking over the implementation. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)