Local agent raps McKenzie over fire truck


Local agent raps McKenzie over fire truck

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

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IAN K Agencies, local dealer for German firm Magirus/Iveco, has shot down recent statements made by Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie in Parliament regarding the procurement of trucks for the Jamaica Fire Brigade (JFB).

In a press statement yesterday, the company said the answers the minister provided to questions raised by St Andrew South Eastern Member of Parliament Julian Robinson about the contractual arrangements for the units were misleading, inaccurate and left unanswered questions.

McKenzie told the House on November 17 that during the procurement process for the units, his ministry received an “unsolicited proposal” from Ian K Agencies for 35 trucks, and other firefighting equipment but that the company had later disqualified itself from the process by informing the ministry that “they would not be interested in participating in a tender process because they were not the agents for the trucks that were already in the JFB fleet”.

He explained that direct contracting was used to engage National Safety Limited (NSL) because the company had over the last 13 years successfully bid to supply the JFB's units, and that with the majority of the vehicles being over 13 years old, there was a need to standardise the fleet through this procurement method.

McKenzie stressed that the process by which the trucks were procured from long-time supplier Rosenbauer Minnesota LLC through NSL, its local dealer, at a cost of US$24 million, had been transparent.

But the Magirus's dealer has cried foul at the bidding process, claiming that it has in fact over the past 13 years tried to participate but was “forced to object to the terms of the tender document because the tender was skewed towards Rosenbauer trucks and American-made trucks, and excluded European manufacturers for reasons unexplained by the JFB”.

Ian K Agencies said it understands that when the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) approved the contract to NSL, neither the JFB nor the ministry disclosed that another offer was on the table for the same trucks.

“No comparative analysis was done between the two offers, particularly to demonstrate value for money, and the PPC should have been provided with this information,” the company said.

In its explanation for claims that the bidding process was biased, the company pointed out that the tender specifications required adherence to standards by the North American Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), but that these standards were not widely adopted or recognised by European manufacturers, which makes it impossible to participate in the process.

Ian K Agencies also refuted the minister's statement that the JFB was not in negotiations with another company in relation to the fire trucks at the time, and alleged that the “minister is dealing in semantics”. It said the JFB and the ministry had in fact received three offers in writing in December 2018, September 2019 and April 2020, that the JFB participated in several meetings and telephone discussions, had attended two product presentations at its offices by Magirus personnel, and facilitated two visits to Jamaica by Magirus engineers.

Minister McKenzie told the House that when representatives of the brigade visited the Magirus factory in Germany, it was not with the intent to strike a deal and that such an expedition was not unusual.

But Ian K Agencies said the representatives had travelled to Germany in June 2019 to visit the Magirus factory to inspect and customise the trucks. “There was even a meeting with the minister in February 2020 to discuss the offers,” it claimed.

The company also insisted that the JFB board had in fact been involved in the process.

It argued, “There is no dispute that the board had in its possession the proposal from Magirus and were kept up to date on the negotiations during the entire period through our chairman and the chairman of the JFB. All letters and communications were copied to the JFB chairman. It is also noteworthy that the board was not involved in the final decision of such a large purchase.”

The company explained that in an attempt to justify the refusal to entertain the proposal from Magirus, the minister had told Parliament that the cost of each Magirus truck was US$540,857.33 excluding all taxes and related fees but that the last price offer submitted in September 2019 was in fact US$457,000 excluding all taxes and related fees.

The company said, too, that the statement that the Rosenbauer fire trucks were approximately US$21,151.12 more than the price of the Magirus fire trucks (excluding all taxes and fees) was incorrect, and that based on its calculations, the Rosenbauer contract price far exceeds the Margirus costs, and that the Government would be losing close to $1 billion in value.

The supplier also questioned McKenzie's reasoning that standardisation would reduce maintenance costs. “When you consider that the Magirus offer has no cost for spare parts and no cost for the installation of those spare parts for five years, no cost for servicing the trucks for five years, including warranty for five years [would be a better deal],” the company said.

Ian K Agencies further dismissed the idea of standardisation, pointing to the variation in the units comprising the fleet of other agencies under the local government ministry, such as the National Solid Waste Management Authority.

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