Fri | Dec 4, 2020

Supplier disappointed with Williams’ tablets statement - Parties head to mediation over schools project

Published:Thursday | June 25, 2020 | 12:43 AMJason Cross/Gleaner Writer
Technology Minister Fayval Williams.
Technology Minister Fayval Williams.

Information technology company GeoTechVision Jamaica has objected to statements made by Technology Minister Fayval Williams in Parliament on Tuesday that the company delivered substandard devices to the Government under the Tablets in Schools Programme.

Stephen Wedderburn, ICT project manager of GeoTechVision, has reacted, saying that he was disheartened by Williams’ “false” statement, adding that it could be prejudicial to a dispute before the courts between GeoTech Vision and the state-owned e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited over the matter.

Officials of GeoTechVision and e-Learning Jamaica are headed to mediation over the latter’s termination of a contract with GeoTech to supply devices under the Tablets in Schools Project.

The Gleaner has learnt that on Tuesday, e-Learning Jamaica sought to have the Supreme Court set a trial date to see whether the US$16-million contract was properly terminated last September.

The court, however, set a trial date of April 2021, but e-Learning Jamaica requested that mediation be ordered instead.

Yesterday, Wedderburn told The Gleaner that mediation had been previously proposed, but e-Learning Jamaica reportedly refused to dialogue with them. As such, he found their call yesterday for mediation a surprise.

“Why that was a surprise was because we were pushing for that earlier in the process, but up to now, they steadfastly refused to engage. Them appealing for that was potentially a positive,” he said.

Wedderburn said that the courts have granted the parties until September to come to a resolution. If mediation fails, the matter will continue.

Wedderburn said that although e-Learning Jamaica had said that the contract was pulled over quality issues as the devices did not meet the required standards, at no point did it present the list of faults to GeoTech Vision.

“We don’t just see tablets as us selling devices. We do not because we are very passionate about developing children in the technology world, and we will want to be a part of things going forward,” a hopeful Wedderburn said.

The lawyers for e-Learning filed an affidavit on Tuesday, stating that GeoTech Vision did not do enough on its part to resolve the issues, but according to Wedderburn, “politics may be at play”.

In January, e-Learning Jamaica CEO Keith Smith said that the entity was anxious to end the months-long dispute.

He had said that on two previous occasions, the courts threw out the matter and he expressed confidence in their legal advice.