During the tenure of Ronald Gajraj as minister of Home Affairs many items needed by the Guyana Police Force were procured through the ministry instead of through the force following consultations between the commissioner of police and his senior officers, according to former police commissioner Winston Felix.
This situation saw Regent Street businesses being contracted to deliver items to the force, and, according to Felix, inferior items, including radar guns and socks, were what the force ended up with.
The former top cop, now APNU member of parliament, in an interview with Stabroek News said in those days the monies allocated to the police came under various headings and the commissioner had theauthority along with his officers to decide whether to procure from a single source or go through a tender process. Many times, Crown Agents in England was used to provide uniforms and other equipment to the force. The force having decided on whom it would do business with would signal this to the Bank of Guyana which then wired the money to the company.
However, Felix said, when he became commissioner–taking over from Floyd Mc Donald–he discovered that private people, some on Regent Street and other parts of the city, were importing items like radar guns and other equipment for the police and they were of very inferior quality.
“I know in one case a man was bringing socks and other items of uniform. I used one of those socks…and when I pushed my foot in my toes came right through…,” Felix said.
The items were brought in by a local business and Felix said when he became commissioner the business was still supplying to the force and he immediately put a stop to it. He said he does not know what obtains now, but he feels that there are still cases of single sourcing.
According to Felix, the force would have lost out on the radar guns as they were so inferior and also because the business that brought them in was a third party. He explained that had the force bought the guns directly from the manufacturing company and they were found wanting then it had the recourse of returning them to the company for some form of compensation. The former police commissioner said when he took office he complained about this issue and advocated the purchase of guns directly from a manufacturing company.
“Because if I can source radar guns from a particular company I can live with that company and carry on after sales contact with them in relation to that product…” he said.
Further, Felix said purchasing from the company would also mean that the item would be cheaper. And the company, on request, could have sent a representative to demonstrate how the guns operated adding that that is the “advisable way to go.” That would have been in the best interest of the company which would have wanted its reputation to be intact.
He said that the Regent Street business may not have set out to bring in the inferior guns but not having the necessary expertise, may have just bought them from the first place which seemed to have a good price.
After he became commissioner, Felix said, he purchased radar guns which were sturdier and were still in use when he left the force. In contrast, the guns bought by the Regent Street business lasted for just about three months and that meant millions of dollars were lost.