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K8.9 billion deal raises eyebrows

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Questions linger on how Chancellor College, a constituent college of the University of Malawi (Unima), awarded a contract to Plem Construction to build an administration block at over K1.5 billion more than the cheapest bidder.

While stressing that it should never be obvious that the lowest bidder should get a contract, a construction architect, who opted for anonymity because he is a government employee, said a basic structure often attracts the lowest if they meet the requirements.

But information that we have gathered indicates that while Manobec, with the capacity to construct the block, charged K7.3 billion, Plem went for K8.96 billion.

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This, according to the architect, should have been strictly considered in the award of the contract, but “it appears that was never done”.

Plem Construction Managing Director Mohan Krishnan said the firm was not aware that it had been awarded the contract and referred us to Chanco for details.

Unima spokesperson Alfred Banda confirmed the awarding of the contract to Plem Construction, saying the process followed the required steps.

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“The published, as you may have seen in the local press, notice of intent to award a contract, has followed a step-by-step process as provided by relevant laws governing the procurement of such nature,” Banda said.

He declined to comment on how Unima settled for a contractor who charged K1.5 billion more than the cheapest bidder saying the university will not provide any further comments from this point “to allow the law to guide the finalisation of the process”.

Apart from Manobec, other contractors which charged less than Plem are Wahkong Construction at K7,753,855,711, Rays Construction at K8,338,136,492, Century Holdings K8,590,581,401, Paramount Holdings at K8,707,076,121 and Fargo which charged K8,833,354,642.

According to the notice of intention to award the contract, the bidders who would like to be debriefed on the procurement, are asked to write the college within ten days of issuing the notice.

The project is being implemented with support from the Malawi Government through the Public Sector Investment Programme.

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