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AIP case moved to January

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By Deogratias Mmana:

The High Court sitting in Lilongwe has adjourned to January 9 2023, a case in which Lonjani Investments and 29 other companies have dragged the Public Procurement and Disposal of Assets Authority (PPDA) and its director general to court over the cancellation of contracts to supply 185,700 metric tonnes of fertiliser under the Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP).

The companies applied to PPDA for a review of Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi (SFFRFM)’s decision to cancel the contracts after the former had granted a No Objection for the tenders.

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And PPDA did not act on the application, prompting the companies to apply to court for a judicial review of PPDA’s failure to act on their application.

The companies also asked for interim reliefs because they feel they will suffer irreparable loss at the hands of PPDA and the director general for breach of their statutory duties as espoused by their failure to act on the application.

The judicial review case, number 67 of 2022, has since been adjourned to January 9 2023.

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“Notice of adjournment of the inter partes application for permission to apply for judicial review and injunction. Take notice that the hearing of the above matter has been adjourned to the 9th day of January 2023 at 3 o’clock in the afternoon,” reads the notice bearing the High Court stamp and dated December 19 2022.

The case is under Judge Kenyatta Nyirenda. The companies are represented by Messrs Kita And Company.

On September 1 2022, SFFRFM applied to the PPDA for a No Objection to award the contracts and, on October 5 2022, the PPDA granted SFFRFM the No Objection for the delivery of 185,700 tonnes of fertiliser.

Further, on October 25 2022, SFFRFM published its intention to award the contracts to all the 30 companies and others in newspapers. And the companies were expected to sign the contracts after the expiry of 14 days of the notice for the intention.

But on November 11 2022, SFFRFM published a notice of cancellation of the procurement proceedings of the 185,700 tonnes of the fertiliser.

According to documents, the cancellation was made because the total contract value of the number of bids exceeded the budget and, therefore, it was in the public interest that the whole procurement proceedings be cancelled.

On November 15 2022, the companies submitted to the PPDA an application for review of the decision of SFFRFM to cancel the procurement proceedings.

Kita lawyers wrote PPDA again on November 24 2022 as a follow-up to the earlier application which was not attended to.

“Our writing to you is to demand that you issue a notice extending the suspension of the procurement of 185,700 tonnes of fertiliser against the Smallholder Farmers Fertiliser Revolving Fund of Malawi. To wit, that they will not during this period procure the above tonnage from any other supplier until our clients’ application for review herein has been attended to with finality,” reads the letter signed by Wapona Kita.

PPDA spokesperson Kettie Kujaliwa defended the decision by the SFFRFM, arguing that, according to Section 46 of the PPD Act, a procuring entity may reject all bids at any time prior to the acceptance of a bid without any liability to the bidders.

“However, everyone has a right to seek legal redress or remedy when they feel injured. PPDA will let the process run its course,” Kujaliwa said.

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