Thu | Nov 15, 2018

Police used-car drama worsens - Millions added to cost; vehicles still not delivered

Published:Thursday | January 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
New police vehicles at the police commissioner’s Old Hope Road, St Andrew, office.

After failing to account for how it spent $218 million in advance payment from the Ministry of National Security to import 200 pre-owned motor vehicles for the police force, the ministry revealed that it has partially terminated the controversial contract to O'Brien's International Car Sales and Rentals.

Permanent Secretary in the national security ministry Diane McIntosh said that the supplier was asked to voluntarily exit the contract in December but declined after failing to deliver on its obligation.

In a letter to O'Brien's dated December 15, 2017, the ministry said: "In light of the delays in relation to this matter and the increasing costs associated with the variation as well as your inability to deliver the total 200 vehicles under the contract within the time agreed, we hereby terminate the contract in part ... ."

However, in what appears to be a strange twist to the vexed used-car debacle, the 66 vehicles on the wharves, of which four have been delivered to the ministry, are expected to cost the Government an additional $42 million. This is because the vehicles are newer than the 2012 ones that were originally agreed on in the contract. The models range from 2013 to 2015.

O'Brien's delivered 30 of the 200 vehicles in June last year.

Ministry officials told Parlia-ment's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) yesterday that the Government had originally expected to pay $148.8 million for 96 vehicles, however, the variation, as a result of the newer models, would increase the Government's bill to $190.6 million.

Committee members were up in arms over the spike in the amount to be paid by taxpayers.


Up in arms


McIntosh said that at a meeting with O' Brien's in mid-December, the company committed to deliver the 66 vehicles within 10 days, but to date, has only handed over four.

At the same time, there is a dispute over the actual sum to be paid to the national security ministry by O' Brien's. The ministry is insisting that the company repay the $213 million that was advanced.

The ministry has called in the solicitor general to handle the case on its behalf.

Additionally, the ministry has also called on the performance bond in the sum of $42 million, which is currently held by an insurance company.

On January 10, the ministry made a second call, giving the insurance company until tomorrow to deposit the amount in its bank account.