The government will move to terminate all Family Island school bus contracts in accordance with the terms of those agreements and begin the “process afresh”, Minister of Education Glenys Hanna-Martin said last night.
She said the decision was made due to the controversies that arose over the awarding of the contracts under the former administration.
The Nassau Guardian reached out to Hanna-Martin after Free National Movement (FNM) Leader Michael Pintard raised the issue yesterday.
“Some of the contracts terminate naturally in December,” Hanna-Martin said.
“Others are being terminated by reliance on the termination clause in the contracts. You may recall the controversies under the former administration when it was alleged that persons who in fact won bids for bussing were sidelined.
“In other instances, contracts were terminated in reliance on similar clauses; litigation ensued in several instances. It was deemed appropriate by the government in light of the controversies and allegations to go at the process afresh.”
Hanna-Martin said the government decided not to take action immediately to allow contractors to operate for a period once face-to-face instruction resumed. Face-to-face instruction resumed in September for the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Lorraine Symonette-Armbrister was unable to indicate how many contracts were terminated in total.
She said contracts on Abaco, Eleuthera and Grand Bahama are set to expire next month.
Symonette-Armbrister said a tender exercise will be carried to replace these contracts.
She said there are other contracts that expire next year.
“Those contracts will be terminated,” Symonette-Armbrister said.
In a statement, Pintard condemned the decision to terminate those contracts.
“The subject contracts were for a fixed term of three years with one full year remaining,” he claimed.
“Further, there was no indication given to any of these hardworking Bahamians that they did not perform the contracted works or otherwise breached the contract.”
Pintard said Bahamians who do business with the government must have confidence in those business dealings.
He said they should trust that they will only be terminated if there is “just cause”.
“Contractors who rely on the issuance of a fixed-term contract, and act to their detriment by borrowing money for the equipment needed to perform the contract, should not face ruin on a whim or at the hands of vengeful politicians,” Pintard said.
“The FNM condemns the abrupt termination of these bus contracts. We stand with the contractors and will determine our next steps after taking legal advice.”