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The Olympic Gardens Police Station in St Andrew, which the Police Federation head had raised concerns about the quality of work

POLICE Federation Chairman Corporal Rohan James is calling for members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s (JCF) logistics department to be given oversight over private contractors who work on JCF infrastructure. However, he insisted that they must be paid for this.

His call comes in the wake of National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang’s assertion that some private contractors have been paid millions for shoddy work done on police stations.

“We still find that when contractors get work on police stations, they don’t take it seriously. They undermine the work of the Government. They go in and they literally, for want of a better word, do a bad job — let me put it in plain language,” Dr Chang told business leaders in St Ann on Saturday.

“They see government money as cheap work,” he added.

The security minister said there is a solution being explored.

“The commissioner [Major General Antony Anderson] is positioning the police department to manage some of the work there,” he told his audience.

Asked for a reaction, Corporal James stressed that while he did not hear the comments and would not wish to speculate, he has a clear view on the approach that should be taken. The logistics team, he said, is responsible for “repairing facilities, and assists where the force is building out any properties”, and they need to be in charge.

“They should have some supervisory role in relation to private contractors because this is where substandard work is being let through the cracks,” he told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

James noted that he has, in the past, raised concerns about the quality of work done during construction of the Olympic Gardens Police Station in St Andrew, and the upgrading of the facility at Buff Bay, Portland.

But he raised another contentious issue.

“What I do know is that there are concerns lingering with police officers using their skill sets to leverage work for the organisation for which they believe they should be properly remunerated, and they are not being currently remunerated for this. So consequently, I know that there is an issue that must be resolved, going forward, in relation to members who are assigned to the property maintenance unit.”

Asked specifically if he meant they were willing to provide oversight for the projects as long as they are paid, he replied, “Indeed.”

In his address in St Ann on Saturday, Dr Chang spoke of the challenges being faced with private contractors as the Government tries to implement planned upgrades to the physical infrastructure of the JCF. In addition to the suggested fix of having JCF members provide management, he also appealed to the private sector for help.

“The private sector should be aware because, you know these contractors, they’re responsible people and they should do better but when they get work in government is like it’s free money. And everybody knows that’s not free money. You pay taxes, you pay room tax, you pay income tax, you pay GCT, and that’s the money we’re spending,” the security minister said. “But for some reason contractors in Jamaica view government money still, despite of changes in procurement process and laws, like just free money. So they get to a police station [but] the job is never properly done.”

He noted that at some police stations substandard work has become a nuisance for lawmen once buildings are occupied.

“You get to a station which has been recently refurbished, the electrics not working properly — someone just couldn’t be bothered to fix the wires. The plumbing have a leak; and they finished the work and they leave the station with plumbing defective, and when the police officers go they suddenly find the toilets can’t flush because somebody turn off a valve, didn’t bother to fix it. And they have no facility and they collect the money and they gone,” said Dr Chang.

“That is one of the biggest challenges we face. There are small jobs and contractors from far will take the job, and if we tried to do it otherwise we get called in by the procurement process. But we get a contractor from Kingston come to do a $10-million job in St Ann, they give you $3 million worth of work. That’s the reality we [are] faced with,” he added.

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