Sunday, July 15, 2007

American firm calls for probe into contract for buses

By RADHICA SOOKRAJ
An American company is calling for an investigation into what it calls a “suspicious and illegitimate” contract granted by the Government to a local company for the supply of buses to the Public Transport Service Corporation (PTSC).

In a faxed statement on Friday, Champion Motors of America Inc, based in Florida, accused the Government of violating business ethics by not inviting them to bid on a contract for the provision of buses to T&T.

Chairman of Champion’s board of directors Jackie Jacobs said last year her company supplied top-quality, reliable buses to T&T.

“We sent samples of these beautiful and reliable buses and later won a bid for 25 buses,” Jacobs said.

“We won this bid thanks to our excellent quality, price and after-sales service.

The Public Transport Service Corporation was proud to present our buses and was especially satisfied with the support we offered them.

“We were very surprised to learn of a new bid in which we were not invited.”

Jacobs alleged that a company called Louba Engineering was asked to supply Champion buses.

“We were very upset by the lack of respect shown by the authorities of PTSC in its failure to show us the courtesy of an invitation to bid, especially after having won a bid and shown ourselves to be supportive of the people of T&T through the supply and service of our products.
“We are very suspicious that mysterious and illegitimate factors influenced these decisions.”

She noted that it was well-known T&T had suffered in the past because of previous purchases of buses from Brazil.

“The prices were outrageous and there was poor or no after-sales service,” Jacobs said.

“Buses were stuck in the repair shop due to the lack of supplies and parts. It is the people of T&T who suffer the true consequences of such unethical arrangements.

“The question then becomes why Champion was not invited to bid, given that we offer the best financial solution and the highest quality and service.

“We can only conclude that personal interests were prioritised over the necessities of the people.

“Our product exists to benefit the people of T&T. It is these people who are being abused by corrupt authorities to fill the pockets of a few individuals.”

Jacobs said Champion Motors of America was demanding an explanation of the relationship involving Louba Engineering, PTSC and the Government.

“We ask that the people of T&T investigate these issues and put an end to this type of corruption forever,” Jacobs added.

All above board—Ragoonanan PNM Oropouche East chairman Harry Ragoonanan, who heads Louba Engineering, defended his company yesterday, saying there was no breach of business ethics.

Ragoonanan, who is married to Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan, said last year PTSC invited tenders for a supply of 30-seater buses to facilitate rural transportation.

“Champion did not have a local agent, and PTSC said the contract would only be given to a company with a local agent.

Ragoonanan said Louba Engineering won the bid to represent Champion as its local agent. He said it was subsequently discovered that Champion was not the manufacturer of the buses, and that they had to be shipped to T&T from the factory in China.

“We had to ship the buses from China and this was difficult,” he said.

“Right now, we are still awaiting 13 of the 25 buses.”

Ragoonanan also alleged that Champion charged Louba Engineering rent for space at the factory in China.

“We have paid US$43,000 in rent to date, and this is ridiculous because no other company charges such rent,” he said.

Ragoonanan said, too, the price of the buses, as well as spare parts from Champion, were exorbitant.

Asked whether Louba Engineering had been chosen by PTSC to supply a new set of buses under a new contract, Ragoonanan said no company had yet been named. Saying that neither the Government nor Louba Engineering had breached business ethics, he declared he was a long-standing member of the PNM.

“I am the chairman of the Oropouche East constituency for the PNM, but does that mean that I have to stop my business transactions because of this?” he asked.

Now at the begininng of this article you would ask yuh self. Who is this fockiin Louba Engineering?

You mind will concoct all kinda ideas of how they related to the fockin PNM.

Bam, Lo and Behold.......Harry boy Ragoo is fockin Chairman of the Oropouche East constituency.

Wa d fock, yuh expect me to say something again. Figure it out man.

Oh ho, doh forget who is ee wife! Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan

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