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Stalemate in row over PO’s public-private courier service deal

Silence: Wayne Furbert, the minister for the Cabinet Office (File photograph)

A bid to get details of a controversial link-up between the Bermuda Post Office and a US private courier company has been stonewalled by the Government.

The refusal came after Mailboxes Unlimited, a Bermuda courier company, challenged the deal, set up without it going out to tender.

Kenny Thomson, the president of Mailboxes Unlimited, said he would consult his lawyer before he decided on any further action.

The row broke out after the Post Office went into partnership with Florida-based company Access USA Shipping and its MyUS service to set up an online shopping platform.

The Government claimed that the joint enterprise meant that goods bought from overseas retailers could be brought in at cheaper rates than island-based couriers.

But the deal was condemned by island retailers and the Chamber of Commerce, who said that the Government should encourage people to buy Bermudian.

Island-based couriers also cried foul after it was revealed that the Government had failed to approach them about the scheme before it sealed the deal with Access.

Wayne Furbert, the minister for the Cabinet Office, admitted last month that Bermuda courier firms had the ability to provide the service – but were not approached.

A spokesman for the Cabinet Office said later that a request for proposal was not issued because the value of the contract was not high enough.

Lawyers for Mailboxes Unlimited, a courier firm, wrote to Mr Furbert three weeks ago to ask for details of the contract with Access.

The lawyer warned that if the documents were not released inside two weeks they were “instructed to apply to the court for leave to apply for judicial review”.

The Government rejected the request last Saturday, more than a week after the original deadline.

Eugene Johnston, on behalf of the Attorney General’s Chambers, wrote to Mailboxes Unlimited’s lawyers and insisted there were no legal grounds for the Government to reveal the contract details.

The letter said: “Your client’s letter before claim, dated 15 October 2021, does not outline a meritorious public law claim worthy of the court’s consideration.

“Your client, Mailboxes Unlimited Ltd, do not appear to be in a position to challenge anything to do with the MyBermudaPost shopping platform partnership with MyUS.

“The minister will not hand over any of the documents you ask for.”

The letter warned: “Notwithstanding the weakness of Mailboxes’s position, the minister is aware that they may still seek permission to bring judicial review proceedings.

“It would be a mistake to do so.

“Please note, that since the Government have entered into a contractual relationship with Access USA Shipping LLC as long ago as May 18, 2021, they will not pause performance of that agreement unless restrained by injunction to do so.“

The Government has also refused several times to answer questions from The Royal Gazette about the contract.

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Published November 08, 2021 at 7:56 am (Updated November 08, 2021 at 7:39 am)

Stalemate in row over PO’s public-private courier service deal

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