Published On: Mon, Mar 29th, 2021

Quality Sweepers questions result solid waste tender

PHILIPSBURG – Cleaning company Quality Sweepers and Maintenance (QSM) has filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against the result of the public Solid Waste tender 2021-2026, claiming that the Ministry of VROMI secretly changed the rules and that its bid for garbage collection in parcel 1 (Philipsburg and Pointe Blanche) was the best offer but that the contract went to a company that demanded a higher price.

Related news: Solid Waste Collection Contracts “2021-2026” Awarded to Successful bidders

According to a press release issued by QSM, 23 companies took part in the bidding process. Five contractors received 5-year contracts for seven parcels “How could one contractor be awarded several parcels while it was clearly stated in the terms of reference that one parcel can be awarded per family per household?” the company wonders.

QSM refers to the minutes of a meeting on January 8 that shows that this condition was removed. “Who removed it, why was it removed and did the Council of Ministers approve this change?”

The company assumes that the terms of reference are vetted by the government and that therefore changes to those terms can only be made with the approval of the Council of Ministers. “Otherwise this could be deemed illegal.”

Quality Sweepers is the company of Bertaux Fleming – possibly better known as DJ Rude, the promoter of Carnival’s Night of the Hitmakers – and his family. QSM says it is incomprehensible that it did not get the contract for parcel 1, because it submitted a well-calculated and highly competitive bid with realistic pricing. “Our experience and strategy aim to revolutionize the cleaning industry.”

But during the closed-door tender meeting on February 2, the contract for parcel 1 went to the third highest bidder, QSM says. “Why was the highest bidder chosen? In a time where government is facing obvious financial challenges one would assume that it would be prudent to explore the most favorable price in combination with keen evaluation of the contractor’s mandatory documents.”

The Ministry of VROMI said in a press release issued on March 17 that “stringent rules were introduced for the tender process.” The release also notes that the terms of reference were legally vetted. “The entire bidding process was set in stone before the acceptance of any bid packages and no alterations were made after the bids were submitted.” The press release did not disclose which companies have won the bids.

The release furthermore states that the Council of Ministers and the governor approved the selected contractors “with very little to no remarks due to proper procedures being followed.”

All this has now however been put into question, not only by QSM but also by independent MP Christophe Emmanuel who issued a critical press release on February 21 – more than three weeks before the ministry awarded the contracts – containing questions about the tender procedure.

Related news: Complaints cast shadow over garbage collection bidding process

Emmanuel criticized the requirement that bidders have 10 percent of the value of their bid in their bank account. For a bid of $5 million this would amount to $500,000, the MP stated. He also reported that he had received reports about internal changes to bids after they were submitted and that the order for these changes came “from the top” – meaning VROMI-Minister Egbert Doran.

QSM is obviously disappointed with the outcome of the tender, noting that it has made a name for itself “by taking the cleaning of St. Maarten’s biggest cultural event Carnival to the next level.” It claims to have solved the flies-problem in the Festival Village and to have improved the hygienic aspect of the festival. “We remedied the previous eyesore on the streets with revolutionary street sweepers by cleaning the route immediately after the parades, usually leaving the streets in a cleaner state.”

Though the company lost the tender, it remains focused on its core objective: “365 Days a Year, A Cleaner St. Maarten.”


Related articles:
Press release Quality Sweepers and Maintenance (QSM)
Solid Waste Collection Contracts “2021-2026” Awarded to Successful bidders
Complaints cast shadow over garbage collection bidding process