Heavy opposition toward rapid rail project in trinidad

Bouygues is not wanted as a contractor in the rapid rail building project in Trinidad and Tobago.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago has agreed to build a rapid rail system near the country's capital Port-of-Spain. The cost of the project will be over 10 billion euros and it is the biggest ever building project on the two islands.

The project has received public opposition since the very beginning, regarded as unnecessary and too expensive. When the project was handed over to the Bouygues Group, the officials woke up as well. To start a budget debate in August 2007, former opposition leader Mrs. Kamla Persad-Bissessar held a three-hour long speech on the unsuitability of the group to take over the project, claiming herself as having proof of Bouygues paying inducements to the National Infrastructure Development company (NIDCO) in order to ensure the project. She went on to demand the project to be halted.

Information on malpractices for everybody to find

The contract for the rail project was awarded to the Trinitrain Consortium led by the Bouygues Travaux Publics in early August, 2007. In a letter to the press, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar told how she could instantly find several articles about Bouygues's involvement in bribery and cartels in the internet – how could this be ignored by the parliament, particularly when the bidders for the project were required to declare that they had "not been convicted of or had any civil judgements rendered against them for fraud, embezzlement, bribery, making false statements, etc. [...] within the five year period preceding the bid", she asked.

  • In her press release, Mrs. Persad-Bissessar mentions for example the following cases of offences that involve Bouygues. She found this information online, where it is for anybody else to see as well.
  • In 2002, Bouygues was charged of bribery in the Lesotho Highlands Water project in Lesotho.
  • In 2004, Alstom was banned for two years in Mexico following a scandal in that country. Bouygues has a 30.07 percent share in Alstom capital.
  • In 2005, Hungarian authorities found that Alstom had engaged in cartel activities.
  • In 2005, Cola, a Bouygues subsidiary, received a 21 million euro fine for collusion with other builders in a highway project in France.
  • In 2007, Alstom was fined 65 million euros for cartel activities in a switchgear project.

The Bouygues led consortium is only referred to as the preferred bidder in the rapid rail project at this point and the finalisation of the contract is expected to take place before the end of January, 2008. The allegations of bribery and Bouygues's history of cartel activities have not had an impact on the process.