Disquiet over security changes
TENSIONS are running high at Caymanas Park as the grooms and jockeys' association, and at least one trainers' group, the Jamaica Racehorse Trainers Association, have threatened to take action over what they claim is Caymanas Track Limited again bypassing their input in security concerns at the island's racetrack.
Disquiet has prevailed in the backstretch at Caymanas Park for the last two to three weeks, since it was revealed that the National Contracts Committee (NCC) had approved the bid of Quest Security to replace McKay Security, the company which has secured the racetrack for the last 16 years.
Similar to last year when they had to voice their concerns after being left out of the security-detailing process, all three associations have again expressed anger and disgust about the manner in which CTL went about excluding their input from its decision.
Grooms' association president Errol Thomas and JRTA president Vincent Edwards said they are particularly upset that the first time they learnt about the impending change of security arrangements was via the NCC's website. They have described CTL's actions - not seeking dialogue before sending off its decision to the NCC - as disrespectful and high-handed.
However, Raphael Gordon, deputy chairman at CTL, yesterday said the company has a procurement committee and there are government procurement policies which must be followed, and this does not include consultation with owners, trainers or grooms.
"People constantly put their mouths into things over which we have no control. So if Mr Thomas and Edwards want to be misled, so be it, but I would suggest they acquaint themselves with the procurement procedures," Gordon said.
"The evaluation process has been done and we are following government's laid-down procurement procedures. There is a government-stipulated format, you do that and send it to the contractor general, who makes sure it is totally transparent. Procurement committee then makes a recommendation to the board and the board makes a recommendation to the NCC," he added.
Gordon said he was not aware that a company has already been chosen but, "If that is so, they were the persons who went through and completed what they had to do. You have to have compelling reasons not to award that person," he added.
Vowing not to accept the decision, the groups claim they are the most vulnerable and at-risk personnel at the racetrack, starting work as early as 3 a.m., even overnighting on the vast compound, which is bounded by the volatile Gregory Park and at times troublesome Waterford communities.
The groups also pointed to the relationship they have developed over the years with McKay Security and its CEO, Jason McKay.
Meanwhile, Edwards said he has every intention of taking his concerns to another level, saying the process needs to be transparent and adhered to, as to which companies are allowed to qualify for the tender bid on the grounds of experience.