PM called on to intervene in e-Learning, supplier dispute

PM called on to intervene in e-Learning, supplier dispute

Saturday, October 26, 2019

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THE company at the centre of a dispute with e-Learning Jamaica Company Limited over cancellation of its contract to provide more than 19,000 tablets for the Government's Tablets in Schools programme, has written an open letter to Prime Minister Andrew Holness seeking his intervention in the matter.

E-Learning says it issued a notice of termination to the GeoTech Vision Enterprises on September 16 because the company had failed to deliver on its US$16.6-million contract.

According to e-Learning Chief Executive Officer Keith Smith, GeoTech Vision was contracted in December to deliver 18,000 tablets within six weeks. He said the contract was adjusted in February to accommodate another 1,000 devices by May this year, but e-Learning told the Jamaica Observer this week that GeoTech had not delivered.

GeoTech countered the claims on Wednesday at a press conference, stating that the agreement was for a batch of 1,000 tablets to be delivered by July, and that the devices were available by deadline but that e-Learning had refused to respond to its queries about a delivery location.
GeoTech has also firmly rejected e-Learning's claims that the 11 sample tablets it received did not meet the project specifications.

Yesterday, the technology company called on Prime Minister Holness to step in.

“We also ask that the Government of Jamaica directs e-Learning Jamaica to revoke the termination notice and return to the negotiating table. The contract stipulates that in the event of any contract dispute, three options should be employed to avert contract failure; firstly, informal negotiation, secondly, mediation, and then arbitration. E-Learning Jamaica has completely disregarded this stipulation as well as the dispute resolution process clearly set up in the contract, and went straight to issuing a termination notice,” the company's management said.

It insists that the disregard of the contractual requirements is one of the reasons it is confident of prevailing in any legal challenge.

The company stated that, while it is willing to facilitate a quick and amicable resolution of the matter, the actions taken, and the public statements made by e-Learning Jamaica “suggest that this will not be possible”.

At the same time, GeoTech Vision indicated that it would rather avoid a legal scuffle.

“We believe that having to go through a legal battle runs counter to our interests, the interests of the Government of Jamaica and the Jamaican taxpayers, and critically, the interests of the students who make up the next generation of Jamaicans and [who] could be benefiting from the tablets right now if GeoTech Vision is allowed to deliver them as planned.”

Meanwhile, the company says it has more than 12,000 tablets in the island, which exceed the contract specifications, ready for delivery.

“We are also set to receive another 7,000 plus tablets in a matter of days. We are therefore able to completely fulfil our obligations to supply 19,305 tablets. It makes no sense to have these 19,305 tablets locked up in a storage facility when they could be helping the students of Jamaica to achieve enhanced learning outcomes,” the statement said.

— Alphea Saunders

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