Chevon Campbell reports.

The Integrity Commission is now investigating the awarding of a multi-billion dollar contract by the government to buy fire trucks for the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

The Integrity Commission has been called on to probe how the contract was awarded because of allegations that the price of the fire units does not represent value for money.

Attorneys representing Ian K Holdings are arguing that the contract is costing the government of Jamaica nearly one and a half billion dollars more than what it offered to deliver the fire trucks for.

A copy of the letter from Hylton Powell, the attorneys of Ian K Holdings, has been obtained by Nationwide News.

In it, Queen’s Counsel, Michael Hylton, questions the procurement method used by the Jamaica Fire Brigade to award the contract of 3-billion-dollars to purchase the trucks.

The letter dated August 24, this year was addressed to the Integrity Commission’s Executive Director, Greg Christie.

It says the government paid nearly 24 million US dollars or almost 800 thousand US dollars for each of the 30 fire trucks.

Mr. Hylton says his client is concerned that this recommendation by the Jamaica Fire Brigade was not in the interest of the government.

He says in December 2018, his client submitted an unsolicited offer to the Fire Brigade. This was copied to the Ministry of Local Government.

The offer was to supply 30 fire trucks and fire-fighting equipment.

The trucks would be manufactured by a German company, Magirus, which had over 150 years of experience.

According to Michael Hylton, his client’s offer included after sale service, a financing package and a unique servicing component.

The servicing also includes five years warranty plus maintaining the trucks for five years without charge.

The letter says over the course of the following months his client met with relevant officials of the Fire Brigade to negotiate terms.

This culminated in a June 2019 visit to Magirus in Germany by representatives of the Fire Brigade to inspect the trucks.

Based on requests by the Fire Brigade on September 4, 2019, an updated offer was provided detailing prices for the units.

According to Mr. Hylton’s letter to the Integrity Commission, Ian K Holdings at no time was informed that it was in breach of any guidelines.

The company says it was offering 34 trucks including 30 pumpers, two water tankers and two wreckers equipped with extensive lists of fire fighting equipment.

The 30 pumpers would be at a unit price of just under five-hundred thousand US dollars almost three-hundred thousand dollars less than what the government ended up paying.

According to Hylton, the total price resulted in a difference of nearly one-point-3-2 billion dollars.

This is not inclusive of the five-year warranty and the service inclusive package conservatively estimated at two-hundred million dollars.

This would bring the price difference up to over one-point-5-2 billion dollars.

Ian K Holdings, says its analysis suggests it was not commercially justifiable for the Fire Brigade to recommend or for the Public Procurement Commission, to agree to enter into a contract at such a price.

It says there’s no evidence that the Fire Brigade tendered for 30 pumpers or that the use of a method other than sole sourcing would not be practicable.

It also alleges that at no time did the Fire Brigade inform the Procurement Commission that another offer was on the table that was more than one billion dollars less than the contract it ultimately supported.

It says in these circumstances they believe sufficient material exists to warrant an investigation.

Mr. Hylton confirmed with Nationwide News that he’s called on the Integrity Commission on behalf of his client to investigate the issue.

Questions from the Opposition MP, Julian Robinson

The issue of the purchase of the fire trucks was raised publicly for the first time yesterday in the House of Representatives.

Member of Parliament for South East St. Andrew, Julian Robinson, tabled several questions about the acquisition of fire trucks for the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

Mr. Robinson called on Local Government Minister, Desmond McKenzie, to state the terms of the contract, including the total sum unit costs.

He also wants to know the company contracted and the methodology used to award the contract.

The South East St. Andrew MP also called on Minister McKenzie to confirm if the board of the Jamaica Fire Brigade was involved in the contract negotiation and approved this contract.

Mr. Robinson also wants the Minister confirm if the Jamaica Fire Brigade was in discussions or negotiations with another company in relation to acquiring new fire trucks.

If yes, he’s calling on Mr. McKenzie to state the outcome of those discussions specifically the proposed contract sum and the per unit costs and whether contract financing was offered to the Brigade.

The South East St. Andrew MP wants the Minister to state whether personnel from the JFB travelled overseas to conduct a technical assessment on the type of fire trucks most suited for Jamaica.

And, If so, can he state where the personnel went and what the technical report recommended and the difference in the per unit cost for each truck between the contracted company and the other company that JFB was in negotiations with.