Africa-Press – Malawi. Politicians in the Tonse Alliance are fighting over the K55 billion contract for Chitedze Prison construction project in a bid to loot public funds.
Government wants to construct a new maximum prison at Chitedze in LIlongwe.
The Ministry of Homeland Security awarded the contract to a South African firm but the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) poked holes into the procurement process.
A published report by the Investigator Magazine indicate that politicians and officials from the Ministry of Homeland Security are using their influence to get the contract in the hands of their preferred bidders so that they can in turn receive bribes.
“At stake is the cash windfall in commission, finders’ fees and even bribery to some senior officials accused to pushing a more expensive contract and flouting procurement procedures,” The Investigator Magazine reported.
According to the Investigator Magazine, bids that were selected for final stage of the procurement process included bids by Chinese firm Jiangxi Construction Engineering Group which pegged the project at K29 902 493 778.81, Einstein Construction at K31 267 880 091.67, Plem Construction bid K31 909 049 294.13 and a joint venture of Dec and Rays Construction K33 262 467 666.23.
Others were a joint venture between Digital Base and SICO Civils at K33 830 479 761.18, a venture between Union and Blithe Building Contractors which presented a bid of K34 103 795 923.36, Built-City Building Contractors venture which bid K34 730 000 000, Paramount Holdings Limited which submitted a K35 088 531 520.15 bid and the highest bidder Stefanutti Stocks (PTY) Limited whose bid was at K49 983 003 889.89.
The Ministry of Homeland Security in April said it intended to award Stefanutti Stocks a contract worth K55.8 billion for the project. However, the PPDA in June this year refused to grant a no objection to the intention to award the tender.
The procurement authority said the Ministry used wrong bidding documents for the procurement of works.
“Bidding Document for Works do not contain scoring evaluation methodology for both Technical and Financial evaluation. Works procurements are expected to follow Pass/Fail evaluation methodology,” said Director General Edington Chilapondwa in a letter to the Ministry.
He also faulted the ministry for disqualifying some bidders because they were joint ventures yet the ministry’s own evaluation criteria did not prohibit a bidder from entering into a joint venture with a party that has never been in a joint venture before.
“It is therefore not acceptable to disqualify a bidder on the basis that the bidder’s counterpart in a new inexperienced joint venture. You may wish to be reminded that the principle of joint venture is that bidders come together with a counterpart for a specific procurement,” said Chilapondwa.
In response to the objection, Secretary for Homeland Security Oliver Kumbemba asked for reconsideration saying the bidding document the ministry used is similar to the one which it used when procuring works for the construction of New Blantyre Police for which a no objection was granted.
He added that the ministry did not disqualify any bidder for lack of joint venture experience.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that the successful bidder for the project will raise prices after securing the contract.
“The difference between the lowest bidder and the highest bidder is K20 billion. That does not make sense. The project is massive, and its value is well over K100 billion,” one person said.