Monday, September 23, 2019

Movement on Delivery of Vital Medicines Post Brexit as Ferry Firms and Others Win Right to Bid

Eight Signed Up for Department for Transport Procurement Competition
Shipping News Feature

UK – The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced that eight firms have been successfully appointed to the freight procurement framework and will now be able to bid to bring vital medicines into the UK after Brexit on October 31.

The framework provides a list of freight operators who could transport critical goods like medicines after the UK leaves the European Union. The framework will be in place for the next 4 years and will help speed up procurement processes.

A competition was launched at the end of last week allowing operators on the framework to bid for the first freight capacity contracts, equivalent to thousands of HGVs per week, to ensure the UK is fully able to maintain the smooth flow of vital goods post-Brexit. The 8 companies signed up to the framework include ferry operators, Brittany Ferries, DFDS, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck and Stena, as well as operators from the aviation and rail industries Air Charter Services and Eurotunnel. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“Preparations to leave the EU on the 31 October are continuing at pace and we will do whatever it takes to ensure the flow of life-saving medicines into the UK. This framework guarantees long-term national resilience and I’m confident the combined expertise of these high quality and experienced firms appointed to the framework will ensure we are ready for Brexit day and beyond.”

Operators that have joined the framework will now be able to bid for freight capacity contracts for Brexit and beyond, as and when they are needed over a 4 year period. Each bid was marked against strict criteria, including proven capability to manage high quality projects and experience in freight operation.

By having the firms signed up to the framework, the government says that it has guaranteed a much faster and more efficient procurement process for the next 4 years, while assembling the framework has not yet committed the government to spending any taxpayers’ money.

To support the flow of lifesaving medicines into the UK, the competitions will focus on ports and terminals away from areas forecast as most likely for potential disruption, should it occur. Therefore the freight terminals of Dover, Calais, Dunkirk, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Folkestone, Coquelles, and Barking are not included. The risk and impact of disruption at these ports and terminals caused by a potential lack of trader readiness could affect the flow of vital goods.

By choosing ports and terminals that have the least likelihood of disruption, the government says that it is working in the interest of both operators and the wider public. Certainly these arrangements have a more structured look than the scrambled ‘ferry fiasco’ cobbled together by the last minister, Chris Grayling, with the ironic twist that Eurotunnel were left with a £33 million bonus payment as they had been excluded from bidding during that ridiculous affair.

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said in July that ‘rushed and risky’ procurement exercise had cost the taxpayer £85 million for little or no benefit, and there is still talk of P&O Ferries suing the DfT as the Eurotunnel payout left it at a competitive disadvantage.