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  ACB cancels K48bn rail deal

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By Rebecca Chimjeka & Taonga Sabola

Graft-bursting body, Anti- Corruption Bureau (ACB), Friday cancelled the K48 billion railway contract offered to Mota-Engil to rehabilitate Marka- Bangula Railway section.

This follows a probe ACB conducted into the matter after a group of disgruntled contractors raised a red flag on how the deal was awarded to Mota-Engil.

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In a statement, ACB has also ordered Ministry of Transport and Public Works (MOTPW) to re-evaluate the bid within 15 days.

Among others, ACB’s investigation has faulted the Evaluation Team for substantially departing from the requirements of the Bidding Document when evaluating the bids contrary to the provisions of Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Act and the Bidding Document for this contract.

This, according to the bureau, makes the intended award of contract to Mota-Engil without any solid basis.

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“MOTPW should re-evaluate the last three bidders with consideration being made to the areas of noncompliance to Bidding Document that the Bureau raised in the communication to the Ministry and the investigations some of which predate this investigation, that the Bureau is currently undertaking against the first lowest evaluated bidder.

“The team to re-evaluate the bids should be different from the one that conducted the first evaluation with complete lack of attention to detail to the Bidding Document,” ACB said.

ACB further observed that having in mind the importance of this project to Malawi economy and that this project is a bilateral arrangement between Malawi and Mozambique and that Mozambique has almost finalised their side while Malawi has done nothing, the process of re-evaluation should be done within the next 15 days and proceed with the rest of the procurement processes according to the law.

Reacting to the development, Centre for Social Accountability and Transparency Executive Director Willy Kambwandira hailed ACB for its position.

On August 27 this year, a group of disgruntled bidders wrote ACB Director General Martha Chizuma claiming that due processes were not followed in coming up with the successful bidder.

Among other things, the bidders claim that a ‘No Objection’ from Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) on the matter was dubiously offered, adding that the development even led to the dismissal of the person who signed for it.

“Surely, there was an invisible hand behind that. In no way a junior officer can sign off such letter from the blues bypassing her line Manager, Director, Deputy Director General, Director General and the PPDA Board.

“Most of us, the tenderers, expected authorities to institute a proper investigation on who were behind this junior officer but instead were surprised that months later PPDA issued a No Objection in favour of Mota-Engil,” reads part of the letter.

The bidders also asked ACB to investigate whether Government Contract Unit granted a No Objection on the matter.

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