Le Hunte slams Mark’s TSTT bid rigging claim

Date: 
Wednesday, May 8, 2019 - 05:30

Pub­lic Util­i­ties Min­is­ter Robert Le Hunte yes­ter­day shot down claims by Op­po­si­tion Sen­a­tor Wade Mark that the Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Ser­vices of T&T (TSTT) has been in­volved in bid-rig­ging, favouritism, nepo­tism and cor­rup­tion in the award of a jan­i­to­r­i­al con­tract to an ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber of the Peo­ple’s Na­tion­al Move­ment (PNM).

Speak­ing in the Sen­ate, Mark called on Le Hunte to tell the pop­u­la­tion why TSTT gave favourable con­sid­er­a­tion to T&T Car­pet In­stal­la­tion in the award of a jan­i­to­r­i­al con­tract to ser­vice 300 sites across the coun­try.

“This mo­nop­o­lis­ing of jan­i­to­r­i­al ser­vices for this one ma­jor en­ti­ty is lead­ing or has led to the demise of sev­er­al small con­tract­ing firms who have giv­en years of ded­i­cat­ed ser­vice to TSTT,” Mark said.

These small con­trac­tors, Mark said, had a work­force of be­tween 200 to 300 em­ploy­ees who are now out of jobs.

“The com­pa­ny in ques­tion, we un­der­stand, is linked to a PNM ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber who is a for­mer Sen­a­tor.”

Mark said the PNM ex­ec­u­tive, who is a blue-eyed boy of TSTT, has pur­port­ed­ly been seen vis­it­ing TSTT to hold meet­ings with se­nior ex­ec­u­tives.

“This sit­u­a­tion calls for an im­me­di­ate in­ves­ti­ga­tion and for that re­port to be made pub­lic at the end of the process. From all in­di­ca­tions, the cor­rupt prac­tices at TSTT through this par­tic­u­lar arrange­ment is lead­ing to a feed­ing fren­zy whilst or­di­nary work­ers have been placed on the bread­line.”

Mark said he knew Le Hunte has a hands-off ap­proach at TSTT but called on him to im­me­di­ate­ly probe the mat­ter, stay­ing he had a wad of doc­u­ments in his pos­ses­sion to back up his claims.

“There are many oth­er things that I have in my ar­moury in this scan­dal. I give the min­is­ter the op­por­tu­ni­ty to come clean,” Mark said.

Stand­ing to de­fend TSTT, which is un­der his purview, Le Hunte first apol­o­gised for T&T Car­pet In­stal­la­tion’s name be­ing dragged through the mud un­der par­lia­men­tary priv­i­leges and adding they are good com­pa­ny. Le Hunte said he had no idea where Mark got his facts but said they were geared to­wards “cre­at­ing mis­chief.”

He said the pro­cure­ment of TSTT’s jan­i­to­r­i­al ser­vices goes back to Ju­ly 2015. Back then, Le Hunte said the com­pa­ny ex­tend­ed the con­tracts of 12 con­trac­tors for an ad­di­tion­al two years. In Oc­to­ber 2017, he said TSTT is­sued a re­quest for pro­pos­als (RFP) which did not yield the re­quired re­sults, as they was felt it would have con­tributed to in­creased risks with high­er costs. This led to TSTT re­view­ing its en­tire RFP process. In Ju­ly 2018, Le Hunte said a new RFP was is­sued which closed on Au­gust 9, 2018, to en­sure a more ro­bust per­for­mance sys­tem. This RFP at­tract­ed 33 ven­dors of which 10 were se­lect­ed. Of the ten, Le Hunte said eight were new con­trac­tors while two were pre­vi­ous.

“These con­trac­tors are now in place. They start­ed from Jan­u­ary 1, 2019 and they have been en­gaged for a two-year pe­ri­od.”

Le Hunte re­vealed that the jan­i­to­r­i­al ser­vices pro­vid­ed un­der these new con­tracts were sav­ing TSTT $652,000.

“There is no one per­son ... T&T Car­pet that got all the con­tracts. That is a fab­ri­ca­tion... that is fake news,” Le Hunte told Mark.

Reporter: Shaliza Hassanali 

Category: