PNM accuses SWMCOL of bid rigging
'...Contractor getting $240m a year'
The Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) has levelled allegations of bid rigging involving millions of dollars to a Tunapuna garbage contractor and has threatened to take the State-owned Solid Waste Management Company Ltd (SWMCOL)to the Integrity Commission for facilitating this alleged action.
Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley has alleged that a certain favoured contractor was being paid as much as $240 million a year, to pick up garbage in certain parts of Tunapuna/Piarco areas.
He said that the company, which has a close relationship with the Prime Minister and the People's Partnership Government, got the contract ahead of other bidders even though it had made the highest bid.
Rowley was speaking to PNM supporters at a public meeting at Princes Royal Park, Arima, on Tuesday evening.
But yesterday Local Government Minister Suruj Rambachan refuted the allegations, saying that SWMCOL is merely performing the same job it did in 2009 under the PNM administration.
"The garbage contracts that have been awarded and the process of tendering of awards was done by SWMCOL as it was done in 2009 when the former administration had been given that responsibility to ensure that there was transparency, and those getting the contractors were qualified and always had the requite equipment," he said.
Rambachan added that SWMCOL conducted the process again in 2012 and the tenders were opened publicly. He said the new board was appointed in 2011 and that the former head of the Central Tenders Board Suruj Baboolal is the chairman.
As to threats to take SWMCOL to the Integrity Commission, Rambachan said, "well everybody has their right in this country."
Rowley told Arimians that the Government continues to "distinguish itself as the most corrupt government this country has ever seen," adding that he wanted to alert Arimians that "corruption was on it way to Arima."
Rowley explained that bids were invited and as many as 15 contractors presented their bids.
"A few months ago, bids invited and were opened… everybody knew what everybody else bid, but for some strange reason the Minister of Local Government then made a statement and said the bidding process was illegal and that the process must be done over since the process was illegal," he explained.
Rambachan said he did not recall making that statement.
According to Rowley, "One special contractor had come in consistently higher, either the highest or second highest, and the reaction from Minister is that we have to do over the bidding process.
Rowley explained that in 2010 when the contract ended, this" favoured contractor" was cleaning certain streets at a cost of $4,575 dollars a day but in new contract his bid was upped some 50 per cent.
"You have of ask yourself who is this favoured contractor? Who is this special bidder, who is so lucky.