by Krystal Paco
Guam - With the upcoming school year just weeks away, it's yet to be determined if ten newly purchased 84-passenger school buses can hit the streets to transport the island's school children.
"I found out shortly before the buses were shipped to Guam that there was deficiency in the specifications by the manufacturer," said Department of Public Works director Carl Dominguez. And as he admits, he went ahead and signed off last Friday, receiving the keys, and resuming with plating the vehicles.
"And I was looking at not having the buses at the beginning of the school year because it takes seven months from the procurement award or the bid award to the time to buses can be delivered. I was staring at getting buses in November instead of August when I really badly need them. GSA informed me that I had two choice: one was to reject the buses outright or two to accept them in the best interest of the territory," he said.
In an oversight hearing held Wednesday night, DPW officials reported a daily scramble to service close to 40-thousand public and private school students despite their aged, overworked school bus fleet operating with less than 120 buses for 179 bus routes.
And although Dominguez says he accepted the buses in the best interest of DPW doing its job, as we reported earlier this week, a protest was filed Monday to the Office of Public Accountability by competing bidder vehicle dealer Triple J Enterprises.
In his notice to appeal, Triple J president Jeff Jones requests the award be reversed as winning bidder, Morrico Enterprises, failed to meet bid specifications for side emergency door exits and anti-corrosive rivets on all body parts. The protest also requests that Triple J be awarded as the most responsible bidder as GSA and DPW could have rejected the buses for deficiencies, but failed to do so.
Jones tells KUAM News today he stands by his protest as he feels GSA and DPW should have decided what specifications they wanted prior to issuing the invitation for bid and awarding it. "If the emergency exits and corrosive rivets were not something they really wanted or needed, should've left them out of the bid or left them optional," he said, adding, "I understand they need the buses badly, but it comes down to what they requested in the bid."
Meanwhile, Dominguez stands his ground adding that the buses he's accepted exceed the federal motor vehicle safety standards requirements for school buses.
The ten new buses were purchased through $1.28 million in Department of the Interior funding and would bring the school bus fleet up to 137.