Garwin Davis, Assistant News Editor
POSTMASTER-GENERAL, Blossom O'Meally-Nelson, has been slapped with a lawsuit in the nation's Supreme Court.
The lawsuit, filed by Moore's Air Express Service Limited, a contractor with the postal services department since 1955, alleges that Mrs. O'Meally-Nelson, in her capacity as Postmaster-General, exceeded her jurisdiction and acted in a manner harmful to the complainant and members of the Jamaica Mail Express Co-operative Society (JMEC).
According to documents filed in the Supreme Court and obtained by The Sunday Gleaner, the Posmaster-General is accused of acting "contrary to law in refusing on February 3, 2003, to accept the Applicant's 69 Tenders despite the presence of the Applicant's representatives at the tender location before the close of tender."
She is also accused of holding back on outstanding payments in the sum of $34.2 million owed to the plaintiff and calculated between the period May 1, 2000 to June 2001. The case is set for mentioning tomorrow.
The Plaintiff further alleges that Mrs. O'Meally-Nelson has been carrying out a personal vendetta against Moore's Air Express and members of the JMEC, saying there have been clear cases of "animosity, malice and bias" shown towards "the Applicant and its principals" by her in the past.
In a sworn court affidavit, one of the participants in the case explained her ordeal in trying to submit tenders on behalf of Moore's Air Express and the JMEC.
"I attended the tender location with all the required sealed tenders for the Applicant and its members at 2:53 p.m., on the 3rd of February 2003 in order to submit the Applicant's tenders," she said. "I was accompanied by two other representatives of the applicant, Ms. Helen Richards and Mr. Courtney Whilby. On approaching the tender box, Ms. Chambers, known to me as the Head Postmaster Kingston, physically barred my access to the box and despite my protestations that it was not yet three o'clock, she refused to accept the tenders. Whilst continuing my protest, Mr. Richard King, known to me as a representative of the Spectrum Management Authority and the Chief Security Officer of the Postal Corporation of Jamaica, entered the room and without any justification, reiterated the earlier refusal of the tenders.
"That, as a result of this unfair behaviour by the Respondent's agents, the Applicant was prevented from participating in the tender process. Additionally, 35 other bids from the Applicant's constituents, who hold existing contracts with the respondent, and whose bids we were delivering on their behalf, were also excluded from the process. This arbitrary exclusion of persons who have participated in the transport of mail for decades is a continuation of the clear bias against any collective representation of mail contractors by the postal authorities and especially the Respondent over the years."
Mrs. O'Meally-Nelson, in her affidavit, noted that "at the time the tender process was undertaken it was anticipated that the process and the award of contracts for provision of postal services on the routes advertised in the Invitation to Tender would have been completed by March 31, 2003 to 2004 in compliance with the request of the Auditor-General that new contractual arrangements should be put in place. The Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology had also so directed. The Jamaica Mail Express Co-operative Society Ltd. were in a meeting so informed of the timing."
Also in her affidavit, the Postaster-General stated that with the deadline for contracts to be put in place fast approaching and without a mechanism to ensure the continued provision of services relating to the transportation of mail and employee transportation services, "there will be interference with the efficient delivery of postal services within the country. This type of disruption could have disastrous social and economic implications for the country on a whole and negatively impact our international obligations."
The Plaintiff in their affidavit said that "The Respondent's actions are unfair, arbitrary and against the spirit and intent of the Post Office Act. If the Respondent should be allowed to conclude yet another flawed tender process excluding the many current contract holders from consideration for the renewal of their contracts without any sincere reason for so doing, then the Respondent will have succeeded in further marginalising a significant section of the labour force in Jamaica and prevented the members of the Co-operative and of the applicant from any chance renewing their contracts with the Government that they have performed at a high standard over many years."