Information recently put into the public domain indicated that the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) awarded a new 12-month contract to Caribbean Helicopters, a helicopter transport service based in the twin island of Antigua and Barbuda. It was also stated, as a matter of fact, that no tender document was sent to competing Helicopter transport service companies for this provision of air transport services to the MVO.
MNI Media contacted both the ranking official at the Governor's Office, The Financial Secretary with the Government of Montserrat, and also the Director of the MVO, so as to ascertain the facts whether these individuals have in fact issued a new helicopter contract without a tender, as this would have been in contravention of GoM's rules and regulations.
What we can report from our fact-finding exercise is that no new contract has been awarded to Caribbean Helicopters, or any other air transport service company by the MVO.
The Montserrat Volcano Observatory relies on helicopter transport services as part of their monitoring of the island's Soufriere Hills Volcano. In this regard, the MVO has had a contract with Caribbean Helicopters for a considerable time, according to officials from the MVO. This contract was awarded, and subsequently only renewed, according to MVO’s financial rules, which are aligned with those of the Government of Montserrat’s financial rules.
As regards the issuing of a new contract and the tendering process; the information received from the Director of the MVO, Mr Roderick Stewart, is that the MVO is currently preparing the tendering arrangements for a brand new helicopter contract. In this process that is presently ongoing, they are taking advice from the Ministry of Finance and from the Director of Procurement on the procurement process for securing what will then be a new Helicopter transport service contract for the MVO.
When ready, this tender will be open to any and all qualifying helicopter companies.
Once the Observatory had begun preparations for the tendering process for a new helicopter contract, the existing contract with Caribbean Helicopters has only been extended twice.
Thus, the status of the MVO helicopter contract is that the tender documents and terms are being prepared presently and ALL Helicopter service providers would be allowed to submit their bids and be assessed accordingly. The renewal of the current Caribbean Helicopter contract is only for ongoing service provision to the MVO, according to the officials so concerned.