A HIGH Court judge has held that Government, through a state-owned limited liability company, was lawfully permitted to manage the procurement process for garbage collection.
Justice Joan Charles’ finding was contained in her judgment in which she ruled against four garbage collection contractors who took legal action against the 14 municipal corporations, the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government and the Solid Waste Management Company (SWMCOL).
The four contractors - BK Holdings Limited, Central Equipment Rentals Ltd, Bartholomew Transport Company Ltd, and Waste Disposals (2003) Ltd – took the corporations, the ministry and SWMCOL to court complaining of the procurement process.
In 2010, the ministry appointed SWMCOL to procure garbage collection services for the 14 corporations for 2010 to 2013. All four contractors took part in the process. On July 5, 2012, SWMCOL implemented another procurement process for garbage collection services for all municipal corporations.
The contractors, who were represented by attorneys Fyard Hosein, SC, Rishi Dass and Anil Maraj argued that the corporations could not authorise the ministry or SWMCOL to invite tenders for garbage collection services.
They also contended that implementation of Government’s policy in reserving certain categories of work for small and medium contractors was manifestly unfair and unlawful.
A rolled-up hearing of the contractors’ judicial review claim was held and Charles held that the contractors’ application did not have a sufficient public law element or realistic prospect of success. She also found that the process was a commercial and contractual matter.
In her decision, she also pointed out that in 2017, Government determined that there must be a holistic approach to the award of contracts to ensure equity, expand economic activity, encourage small and medium business development and guarantee a high level of service and customer satisfaction.
Attorney General Faris al Rawi, in commenting on the ruling, said the court’s ruling upheld the Government’s policy to “protect the rights of small and medium contractors to participate in the process of tendering for and obtaining garbage collection contracts, in keeping with the local government reform ideals.”
He said the procurement process was designed to ensure that there exists a level playing field as among small, medium and large contractors in bidding for and obtaining garbage collection contracts. The corporations, the ministry and SWMCOL were represented by Gilbert Peterson, SC, Kerwyn Garcia and Vishma Jaisingh.