Dozens of state agencies have been left waiting for masks as the supplier has had difficulty delivering them. Several are running out of supplies. The Ministry of Finance that maintains Estonia's central stockpile of masks is waiting on nearly two million.
The Maarjamaa Educational College is waiting on 42,000 surgical masks that were supposed to arrive in early November, which is when the supplier asked for a few weeks' extension. The school is still waiting to take delivery of the masks and while it has a month's supply, it still has no certainty in terms of date of delivery.
The Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) is expecting the same supplier to deliver 1.2 million masks, with the contract now two weeks over deadline. The PPA has been promised the masks by November 20. The police go through 10,000 masks a day and have enough for two months at present.
"We have been told the masks are still stuck in customs in China," said Herdis Jensen who is in charge of the masks tender at the PPA. "OÜ Hurt has offered to deliver smaller quantities first."
The experience has taught the PPA not to rely on a single supplier.
However, the PPA and the Maarjamaa Educational College are not the only ones waiting for masks. The State Support Services Center (RTK) organized four public procurements for throwaway surgical masks one of which covers 84 state institutions from ministries and schools to the PPA for a total of around two million masks.
The Ministry of Education and Research is waiting on 40,000, Tallinn Polytechnic School on 10,000, Agricultural Board on 8,500, Jõelähtme Municipality government on 2,000, Tallinn Service School on 1,500 masks etc.
All four tenders were won by OÜ Hurt that has to deliver a total of nine million masks to public institutions 6.5 million of which should have been delivered by November 1. In reality, many agencies are still awaiting delivery, with the supplier employing stalling tactics and negotiations, asking customers whether they could deliver some of the masks now and some in three weeks' time for example.
Central stockpiles also late
During the spring coronavirus crisis, Minister of Public Administration Jaak Aab went to personally meet an airplane delivering masks that had all but run out in Estonia for what was a heroic photo shoot.
The blunder culminated in a decision to create a central stockpile of masks to last the country for a month. One of the RTK procurements was meant to complement Estonia's crisis supply of masks overseen by the Ministry of Finance – a total of 2.7 million masks. Winner OÜ Hurt could not deliver the masks on time by November 1.
Two weeks after deadline, the company only managed to deliver 350,000 masks this week and has promised to deliver another 200,000 next week. The rest of the masks should arrive a week after that.
Supplier: We have not hung anyone out to dry
CEO of OÜ Hurt Lasse Hurt told ERR that everyone in dire straits has taken delivery of masks, while he also admitted difficulties.
"Agencies whose stockpiles were critical have been supplied. We are supplying masks every day. Performance of contracts has stalled because of supply problems, stoppages in the logistics chain caused by the pandemic," he said.
Hurt says that masks that have not yet arrived are either already in the company's warehouse or on the way there and promises to deliver all masks as soon as possible.
The delivery date of hospitals' non-reusable surgical masks procurement also came and went on November 1. Lasse Hurt says that some of these orders have been filled while some are still outstanding.
Editor: Marcus Turovski