Missing waste collection tender evaluation documents surface

Missing waste collection tender  evaluation documents surface

In 2021, five companies were awarded contracts by the Government of St. Maarten for the collection of solid waste during a period of five years.

PHILIPSBURG--More than a year and a half after the Ombudsman of St. Maarten highlighted in its conclusive report on the tendering for solid waste collection contracts that the information-gathering process was hindered by Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure VROMI Egbert Doran, the previously elusive evaluation sheets have finally come to light. These crucial documents are now in the The Daily Herald’s possession.

In the June 2022 final report on the systemic investigation by the Ombudsman’s Office, Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel concluded based on the findings that the tendering and awarding process for the collection of solid waste from 2021 to 2026 was “neither fair nor sufficiently transparent.”

In the final report, the Ombudsman shed light on the methodology employed throughout the investigation, expressing concern over challenges faced. The Ombudsman said the information- gathering process had encountered hindrances due to the minister’s non-compliance with Article 19 of the National Ordinance Ombudsman, refusing to furnish essential information for the investigation.

Subsequent to hearings with the evaluation committee, it became apparent that the individual evaluation sheets assessing the completeness of tender documents, along with signed copies of internal findings reports, were glaringly absent from the documentation provided by the ministry.

Requests for additional follow-up information and documentation, based on insights gained during the hearings, were also met with resistance, the Ombudsman reported. The minister declined to provide pertinent information, asserting that the ministry deemed the information already furnished to the Ombudsman's office as comprehensive and complete. Furthermore, the minister contended that the inquiry’s scope did not encompass the questions and requests made.

The Daily Herald has acquired the individual evaluation sheets for all companies involved in the tendering process, shedding light on a peculiar situation involving two sets of evaluations. Examination of these documents reveals that the Minister extended a second round to companies initially disqualified during the tendering process. In this unexpected turn, these companies were granted the chance to rectify the reasons for their disqualification by submitting previously-missing documents.

On August 16, 2022, this newspaper reported discrepancies regarding the awarding of contracts by the Government of St. Maarten for solid waste collection from 2021 to 2026. Out of the five companies granted contracts, two were disqualified during the tendering process.

Their evaluation sheets from the second round, as granted by Minister Doran, reveal that these companies, currently holding contracts amounting to a total of NAf. 9,689,971.65 over five years, secured these contracts despite scoring among the lowest. Furthermore, their bids surpassed those of qualifying competitors.

Avyanna Cleanup and Construction, currently collecting garbage in Cay Hill and surrounding area, identified as Parcel 5, and Garden Boyz Cleaning Services BV, current garbage collector for Parcel 2, comprising Pond Island, Over the Pond, Illidge Road, Madame Estate, Guana Bay and Hope Estate, were disqualified during the tendering process.

On February 2, 2021, their incomplete checklists for tender documents were signed off by

seven persons, including the financial controller and the acting Secretary General of the Ministry of VROMI; the same seven signatures can be seen at the bottom of each of their checklists that show a number of No’s and empty boxes.

Garden Boyz did not provide proof of the company’s registration at the Chamber of Commerce, did not present a copy of an original business licence, provided no proof of having paid profit tax nor a bank statement indicating the company’s financial capacity.

Avyanna Cleanup and Construction is registered with Mhalik Ottley as sole proprietor, who failed to register the collection of solid waste as his business activity at the Chamber of Commerce, did not provide a business licence, could not provide proof that the company is not bankrupt nor that the company is not experiencing liquidity or cash flow problems.

Mhalik Ottley's criminal history is documented with a prior prison sentence served before February 2, 2021. Subsequently, on March 29, 2022, he received a new prison sentence. The latest conviction involves charges related to physical violence and injury, resulting in an additional five-month prison term yet to be served.

It has to be noted that awarding a second round to disqualified parties is not in accordance with tender rules. Any change in tender criteria requires approval of the Council of Ministers (CoM). However, the CoM had no part in awarding a second round to disqualified companies.

Moreover, the majority of the seven persons who had evaluated the bids and the submitted documents did not agree with the extra round. Subsequently, four members left the evaluation committee.

The remaining evaluators, including two members of Minister Doran’s cabinet, endorsed new evaluation sheets for previously disqualified companies.

Avyanna received a total of 33 out of 100 points for Parcel 5 (Cay Hill area), while competitors Caribbean General Contractors NV and Down and Dirty General Works BV scored 36 points each. Washington Construction Company NV secured 40 points, and Leonard Enterprise BV garnered 52 points.

Garden Boyz, awarded Parcel 2 (Guana Bay, Sucker Garden, and Madame Estate), received a mere 20 points, the lowest among all companies competing for this parcel. In contrast, competitor Washington Construction Company NV amassed 40 points, Turquoise Web Road Works BV secured 35 points, Leonard Enterprise BV obtained 52 points, Caribbean General Contractors earned 36 points, and Payne Trucking and Heavy Equipment Services had 28 points.

The Ombudsman’s June 2022 final report concluded that certain provisions in the terms of reference (ToR), especially those related to the original business licence and pricing components, disproportionately affected some contractors while benefiting others. The report highlighted a lack of attention from the ministry even when it became apparent that certain contractors could not meet ToR requirements post-nomination but pre-contract signing.

Of the four initially qualified companies for solid waste collection contracts (2021-2026) – All Waste in Place NV, Meadowlands BV, KMD Cleaning Services, and Visions Works – the last two were inexplicably denied contracts despite submitting bids below the government-offered prices and lower than the two companies awarded contracts for Parcel 2 and 5 by VROMI Minister Doran.

The Daily Herald

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