BECL set to lose testing contract

The island’s only vehicle emissions test firm will be left in “chaos” when it is stripped of its contract to carry out checks for Transport Control Department, it was claimed yesterday.

Staff at Bermuda Emissions Control Ltd, which employs 13, said they were in the dark over job security after the Government takes over responsibility for the work next Friday.

A transport ministry spokesman said most of the team will be offered employment under the new arrangement, which was expected to save $400,000 a year. A source insisted no promises had been made to the workforce and that the business would be “crushed”.

Bob Richards, the former One Bermuda Alliance finance minister and deputy premier, added that the Government’s decision was a “squandered opportunity” to generate work for garages across the island [see Page 2].

BECL started emissions testing and roadworthiness checks for all vehicles in 2009 after it was awarded a controversial multimillion-dollar deal without an appropriate tender process.

The five-year contract was later extended on shorter-term deals by the former OBA administration.

The contract was last renewed for a year in early 2018 by the Progressive Labour Party government. A ministry spokesman explained: “As of February 1, 2019, TCD will take over the responsibilities previously held under contract.”

He said the company signed a year-long deal in early 2018 and it was warned then that it was unlikely to be renewed as the Government considered whether to give responsibility for carrying out pollution checks and other vehicle tests to TCD or to outsource again.

The spokesman added: “With regard to BECL staff, as part of the transition process, Government is extending employment opportunities to most of the existing staff and is prepared to transition them to TCD immediately upon expiry of the BECL contract.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank BECL, and its staff, for their hard work and dedication.”

A source close to the company said yesterday, employees were unsure what will happen after the switch and claimed there had been no discussions with the workers.

He said: “It’s going to be very chaotic.

“Government is the only BECL client so, once they take over, they’re going to crush another Bermudian business.”

It is understood the firm has eight test inspectors, three administration staff and two managers.

The source said: “Everything is up in the air right now; they are not guaranteed anything. Nobody’s job is safe.”

A government spokesman added: “Those BECL staff members that expressed an interest in working at TCD have been invited to complete the necessary paperwork for a February 1, 2019 start.”

The Government also said the cash savings would be made through bringing vehicle inspections and emissions testing under TCD control.

A spokesman said: “As a result of this, the only change affecting the public, will be having to make vehicle inspection appointments through TCD.”

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Published Jan 25, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Jan 25, 2019 at 6:22 am)

BECL set to lose testing contract

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