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Questions over Ministry contract

Wiring company tipped to provide bulletproof vests

By By DENYSE RENNE denyse.renne@trinidadexpress.com

Questions have been raised about who invited an electrical installation company to tender for a Ministry of Justice contract, which will see 3,500 prison officers getting new bulletproof vests.

Sources say the company—Complete Wiring and Maintenance—has been tipped to receive the $14 million contract.

It is registered as a company specialising in electrical installation.

 Registry records indicate the company lists Terry Macoon and Susan Macoon as owners.

The nature of the Barataria business is listed as electrical installation.

Macoon has maintained his company is capable of supplying the vests.

But checks by the Sunday Express on whether the company has executed similar contracts in the past and whether their suppliers are certified remained unanswered.

Questions on whether the company has an established relationship with the government as a supplier of defence articles also remained unanswered.

Macoon, in a phone interview, was asked by the Sunday Express to list his past supplies and which agencies he facilitated. 

He said: “We have done security with the ministry in the past.”

Asked specifically which agency, he would not say.

“The ministry is the one who gave us the invite to bid. You should contact them. I am in a meeting,” Macoon said, after which the call was disconnected.

Sources told the Sunday Express that seven firms were invited to bid for the procurement of 3,000 bulletproof vests and 500 stab-proof vests. These vests are to be allocated to prison officers during their duties as well as when they are off duty.

 The opening of tenders process took place on February 27.

Among the firms invited were Marine Consultants, AE Tactical, Agostini, Dass Enterprises, MAC Co-operations and Product and Supplies.

The Sunday Express understands  on February 13, 2013, a request was made by Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez through the Justice Ministry for the vests.

A special tenders committee sat in February last year.

Sources say the committee comprised acting Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams, Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj, Chief Fire Officer Nayer Rampersad, Martinez and a representative from the Central Tenders Board. The Sunday Express understands in a memorandum dated September 19, 2013, permanent secretary in the National Security Ministry Maurice Suite agreed the process should begin for the invitation of tenders. 

A meeting was held on December 12, 2013, with the committee to review the specifications of the vests. In the early part of January this year, all supervisors were informed of the adjustments.

By letter dated January 24 this year, the firms were invited to tender.


Griffith responds:
 
The Sunday Express contacted National Security Minister Gary Griffith asking him to comment on the criteria used for inviting bids.
He said: “I am aware the special tenders committee sat for bulletproof and stab-proof vests for the Prison Service. That is being dealt with by the special tenders committee. I do not get involved in that process.
However, by letter dated sometime in January,  I found out tenders were invited.”
 Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez said he was not responsible for choosing the successful bidder. 
“This is the job of the committee.”
He said he did not know Macoon’s company.
The commissioner added that further questions would not be entertained since this was a matter of national security.
 Also contacted for comment was PS Suite.
He said: “ I cannot recall the names invited, but the prison and Ministry of Justice would have made recommendations to the persons they wanted. 
I don’t know the names of the organisations. We would have gotten recommendations based on the Prison Service and the committee would have to meet to decide who gets the contract.”
Suite explained the tenders were recently opened and an evaluation process and “testing of the vests has to take place”.
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