An abrupt termination of a contract award for the provision of security services has seen RK’s Security file a protest with the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) against the Ministry of Education.
“It was just a very strange occurrence that I or anyone I have spoken to have ever heard of or can make sense of up to now, where you just got a letter that you are terminated because of convenience,” Chief Executive Officer of RK’s Security, Roshan Khan, told Stabroek News when contacted.
“Just imagine, mere hours before we are scheduled to start this letter comes, how that can be justified?” he added.
Chairman of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC), Carol Corbin told Stabroek News that since the body has completed its latest report- the investigation into the $632M drug procurement – RK’s complaint would be one of the next to be looked at.
“We are following up on some other matters where contractors have made some complaints. So now that we are in office and have staff we will be able to follow up and try to address the complaints that have been made,” Corbin told Stabroek News in an interview on September 7th.
“We have several, several with most being from the security services. You would have seen a recent one by RK’s Security, well we are working on that now,” she added.
Khan said that he filed a formal complaint with the PPC after the Ministry of Education terminated a contract it signed with his company one month earlier and on the very day he was supposed to post his security staff at the required locations.
“This letter is being written to confirm that the Ministry of Education wishes to terminate the contract agreement (NPTAB #630/17), in whole, made on the 12th June 2017 between the two parties, for the sake of convenience,” the contract termination letter, signed by Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Vibert Welch, stated.
Welch pointed to a clause that he told RK’s could be found in a General Conditions of Contract sub-clause.
According to the PS, that sub-clause reads, “The purchaser, by notice sent to the supplier, may terminate the contract, in whole, or in part, at any time for its convenience, the extent to which performance of the supplier under the contract is terminated, and the date upon which such termination becomes effective.”
But Khan says that in all his over 35 years in business, he has never heard of a clause of convenience being instituted to terminate a contract and believes that “something is amiss and stinks to the high heavens.”
“It was so unfair and unprofessional. I am not a man to complain about contracts and so forth because I have won contracts and I have lost contracts but this one was just unbelievable. I received the letter informing me that my bid had won and I was supposed to sign the contract within seven working days. We did and prepared and all of that, I had to recruit more staff, had to do so many things and then comes this, how should I call it, most mind-boggling letter,” Khan stated.
He informed that he immediately tried contacting Welch’s office given that his correspondence said that RK’s was free to contact him if there were any issues pertaining to the termination letter.
However, making contact with the Permanent Secretary was a futile effort. Correspondence sent to Welch’s office was also unanswered and it was then that Khan decided to write the President of Guyana, David Granger, the PPC and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board.
“Upon receiving your letter on Friday, 30th June, 2017 at 3:05pm, just a few hours before we were expected to commence our contract with the Ministry of Education; dozens of calls were made to your office and other offices of the Ministry by yours truly and our General Manager, Ms. Ingrid Abrams. Expectedly, there was no answer and to this present date, no response has been received via email, call or letter,” Khan wrote to Welch.
Further, he outlined his grievances. “The injustice which is obvious is that it firstly took more than a month for us to receive the letter stating that we had won the award. Secondly, it took almost two months for the schools to be informed that we had won the tender and it was clear that they were shocked and caught off guard by this development. The NPTAB did their evaluation and we were found most suitable which is fair and honourable. Even Cabinet which is the highest decision making body had no objection. This vindicated our competence and professionalism. Our difficulty is that you took a long time to send us letters and ultimately terminated our contract after we expended hundreds of thousands of dollars and much expectation was created.”
“Thirdly, we went on a mass campaign to employ security ranks for this contract; we purchased uniform, caps and trained them relentlessly for the job and many showed up on the morning of the 1st July 2017, only to be told that we had no work for them due to a “convenience” by you. We know that there was no inconvenience to the Security Service whose contract was terminated and certainly no inconvenience emanated from the heads of these institutions. As a matter of fact, they were very cooperative and happy. We also had to spend a large amount on the performance bond totaling one hundred and sixty thousand ($160,000). Our company has taken serious note of the lack of communication from your office and the delay in correspondences which occurred prior to the Ministry’s termination of our contract. We are of the strong opinion that there was an ulterior motive in the termination of our contract.”
To the PPC and NPTAB, Khan wrote a detailed seven-point letter explaining the company’s grievance saying that while the matter may be taken to the Supreme Court for action, they were seeking to have an amicable solution derived so they “can continue with the award without lawsuits and any media exposure”.
And to the President, Khan said that he outlined basically the same events.
He said the President replied almost immediately saying that he would have instructed that the matter be addressed. “His Excellency, who I must thank, replied and signed his own signature telling us that he would have gotten the letter and had instructed that the matter be looked at…but it seems that no one took the President’s command seriously,” Khan said.
“I want you to understand clearly that I am in no way bashing his Excellency, please but it seems some people that work under him seem to want to do their own thing. Cabinet gave the contract no objection so I know it had nothing to do with the contract itself and I want his Excellency to know also that no one listened to his directive on the matter,” he added.
The PPC Chairman did not say how long the investigation is expected to take.
The contract was for security services at the Cyril Potter College of Education, the Government Technical Institute and the Upper Corentyne Industrial Training Centre.