Contractors pen Anti-Corruption Bureau on K48 billion rail project

Martha Chizuma

A group of disgruntled bidders has asked Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) officials to investigate how Ministry of Transport officials arrived at the name of the successful bidder in the deal to design, rehabilitate and upgrade the Marka to Bangula Railway section.

While confirming receiving the letter, ACB spokesperson Egrita Ndala said the bureau would review the complaint to see if it has merit requiring its action.

On Friday, the Ministry of Transport published an Intention to Offer Notice in newspapers, informing the public of its intention to offer the contract to Mota Engil at the cost of K48.24 billion.


But, in a letter to ACB Director General Martha Chizuma, dated August 27 2021, the disgruntled bidders claim that due processes were not followed in coming up with the name of 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 offered dubiously, adding that the development even led to the dismissal of the person who signed for it.

“It was proved that the No Objection was dubiously given as the Board of PPDA was not aware of it. This led to the dismissal of the person who signed the No Objection. 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 was behind this junior officer but instead were surprised that, months later, PPDA issued a No Objection in favour of Mota-Engil,” the letter reads.

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

GCU Engineering Specialist Vincent Sikelo Monday asked for a questionnaire before commenting on the matter.

PPDA spokesperson Grace Thipha also asked for more time before she could comment on the matter.

But a procurement expert yesterday faulted the disgruntled bidders for jumping the gun by rushing to engage the ACB before exhausting laid out procedures as stipulated in the PPDA Act.

He said the PPDA Act is very clear on what any dissatisfied bidder is expected to do to have their concerns resolved.

Among other things, Section 59 of the Act stipulates that, during the period of intention to offer, aggrieved parties can forward their concerns in writing, to the controlling officer or head of the procuring and disposing entity or the PPDA.

The Act adds that the PPDA Director-General shall convene a three-member ad hoc committee from an established standing review committee which shall hear and decide upon applications for review brought to PPDA.

Section 60(7) stipulates that, upon receipt of an application for review, the procurement or disposal proceedings shall be suspended for 10 days and that the suspension period may be extended to 30 days in cases where the dispute has not been resolved.

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