Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Police cars useless! Controversial used cars now assigned to administrative duties

Published:Thursday | September 6, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue/Senior Gleaner Writer
In this May 31, 2017, photo used Toyota Axio motor cars at O'Brien's International Car Sales & Rentals Ltd, bought for the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

The long-running police used-car saga involving the Government and O'Brien's International Car Rental and Sales has taken a new twist.

Yesterday, Parliament's Public Administration and Appropriations Committee (PAAC) was told that the 66 cars that have been handed over so far failed the rigour of regular police work.

The cars are now being used for administrative purposes within the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), even while $213 million of the advance to O'Brien's remains outstanding.

Yesterday, PAAC Chairman Dr Wykeham McNeill read into the proceedings a letter that was sent to the committee, for which he said a translator was needed.

"Further to assessment of May 2018, I hereby record that the general serviceability of the Jamaica Constabulary Force pre-owned vehicles remains and the challenges of functionality, deployment, and maintenance are satisfactorily mitigated," the letter stated, which was written by Assistant Police Commissioner Warren Clarke of the Support Services Branch headquarters.

 

SHROUDED IN LONG-WINDEDNESS

 

"The vehicles (primarily Axios) have been reassigned to support administrative functions or town/metropolitan tasks (for example, motor patrol in built-up areas) more suited for their specifications. Newly acquired all-terrain vehicles replaced vehicles with lower clearance and power levels at off-the-road, hilly/mountainous, and difficult terrain. Mechanical problems (for example, transmission, sensors, and variable parts) have been successfully strategised considerably reducing the wishes previously highlighted."

The letter ended, "The pre-owned vehicles of the JCF are now being fully incorporated into its fleet and have achieved optimal usefulness, a credit to policy support, leadership, and followership of this Force of Good."

Opposition Spokesman on National Security Fitz Jackson said the real statement of the letter was shrouded in long-windedness.

"It is regrettable, and the minister and the Cabinet that approved this policy decision have committed an act that is unforgivable," Jackson stated.

He said that the letter confirmed that the pre-owned vehicles were not suitable for police work and further "confirmed the idiocy behind that decision that breaks the practice of so many decades ago to use new and specially outfitted vehicles for police work".

Committee member Norman Dunn defended the policy, singling out the last sentence. However, McNeill told him that the Government discontinued the process as it was agreed that it was unsuitable. Dunn then said that he supported the decision of the Government.

The police used-car saga broke last year when it was discovered that O'Brien's was paid nearly $427 million to procure and deliver 200 pre-owned vehicles to the JCF. The company failed to deliver all the vehicles and could not account for how $218 million was spent.

erica.virtue@gleanerjm.com