PHILIPSBURG–Of the five companies awarded contracts by the Government of St. Maarten for the collection of solid waste from 2021 to 2026, two had been disqualified during the tendering process. However, they are currently under contract for a total sum of NAf. 9,689,971.65 in five years.
The Daily Herald has a copy of the letter Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson sent to President of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten on Monday, requesting that she have the attached documents reviewed for verification of authenticity.
The documents presented by the PFP were leaked by an anonymous source and comprise copies of the checklist for completeness of tender documents each participant in the bidding process for garbage contracts had to fill in, as per the terms of reference (ToR) for this tender.
It appears from the documents that some 60% of participants were disqualified; at least 12 of 19 bidders did not comply.
The names of Avyanna Cleanup and Construction, currently collecting garbage in Cay Hill and surrounding area, identified as Parcel 5, and Garden Boyz Cleaning Services BV, current garbage collector for Parcel 2, comprising Pond Island, Over the Pond, Illidge Road, Madame’s Estate, Guana Bay and Hope Estate, are on the disqualified (DQ) list.
Both of these “companies” appear to have incomplete checklists for tender documents, at least on February 2, 2021, when their checklists were signed off by seven persons; the same seven signatures can be seen at the bottom of each of their checklists that show a number of No’s and empty boxes.
Garden Boyz did not provide proof of the company’s registration at the Chamber of Commerce, did not present a copy of an original business licence, provided no proof of having paid income tax nor a bank statement indicating the company’s financial capacity.
Avyanna Cleanup and Construction is registered with Mhalik Ottley as sole proprietor, who failed to register the collection of solid waste as his business activity at the Chamber of Commerce, did not provide a business licence, could not provide proof that the company is not bankrupt or that the company is not experiencing liquidity or cash flow problems.
Mhalik Ottley has a criminal record. He had served a prison sentence prior to February 2, 2021, and received a new sentence for physical abuse on March 29, 2022. The defendant’s lawyer argued in court that he was dependent on the contract with government to provide for his family and asked the judge not to give him an unconditional sentence. However, he was sentenced to five months in prison.
Mhalik is the younger brother of Omar Ottley, Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor VSA and acting Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT). Due to a lack of cell capacity in the Pointe Blanche prison, the Prosecutor’s Office has not yet called on the convict to serve his sentence.
In the final report on the systemic investigation by the Ombudsman’s Office, Ombudsman Gwendolien Mossel concluded based on the findings that the tendering and awarding process was “neither fair nor sufficiently transparent.”
The Ombudsman stated that “the application of certain provisions in the ToR, particularly the requirement of the original business licence based on the scope of the work tendered, and the pricing component disproportionally affected some contractors, while at the same time advantaged others. Even when it became clear that certain contractors could not live up to the requirements of the ToR, after the nomination but prior to the signing of the contracts, this was neglected by the ministry.”
From 16 bidders for Parcel 5 (Cay Hill), five companies had provided all the required tender documents and were deemed qualified. These companies were All Waste in Place, KMD cleaning, Meadowlands BV, Trashure BV and Westindies Landscaping Company NV.
However, disqualified Avyanna Cleanup and Construction, which bid higher than all five qualified companies, was eventually awarded the five-year contract for Parcel 5.
While Avyanna is currently collecting garbage in the Cay Hill area for NAf. 4,603,171.65 per year, the qualified competitors offered to do this work for NAf. 4,315,389.57 (All Waste in Place NV), NAf. 4,134,720.00 (Meadowlands BV), NAf. 4,029,750.00 (West Indies Landscaping Company), NAf. 3,970,500.00 (Trashure BV) and NAf. 3,205,656.00 (KMD Cleaning).
Of the slightly different list of 16 bidders for Parcel 2 (Pond Island, Madame’s Estate, Over the Pond, Guana Bay) only four companies were considered qualified: All Waste in Place NV, KMD Cleaning, Meadowlands and Vision Works.
For Parcel 2, the five-year contract was also awarded to a company that was disqualified, Garden Boyz, that entered a higher bid than the four qualified companies. The winning bid was NAf. 5,086,800.00, while the qualified companies submitted NAf. 4,957,844.73 (All Waste in Place NV), NAf. 3,672,780.00 (Meadowlands BV), NAf. 3,578,513.00 (KMD Cleaning) and NAf. 2,901,528.00 (Vision Works).
In their letter to the President of Parliament, Gumbs and Peterson wrote: “Over the weekend, documentation was given to the PFP faction that appears to be part of the completeness checklist for several companies related to the waste management tender process from the Ministry or VROMI.”
Peterson, former head of Domain Affairs, a department of the VROMI Ministry, recognised the seven signatures on the bottom of the checklists for tendering documents. “The documents received appear to have signatures of members of the Cabinet of the Minister of VROMI, as well as signatures of the members of the selection committee that was discussed in the Ombudsman’s final report on the Systemic Investigation regarding the tendering and awarding process of the Solid Waste Collection 2021-2026.”
The PFP concluded the letter with a request for assistance: “In the interest of transparency and disclosure, we have enclosed with this letter the documents received. We hereby request that these documents are sent to the Ombudsman of St. Maarten, the Government of St. Maarten and to His Excellency, Governor Drs. Eugene Holiday, for verification of their authenticity.”