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RA, Mota Engil deal courts ACB probe

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The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) has said it will investigate allegations that the Roads Authority (RA) flouted procurement procedures in picking Mota Engil for the construction of Thekerani- Bangula Road.

And Roads Authority’s Chief Executive Officer Trevor Hiwa has welcomed the investigation, saying it will bring to light the truth on the matter.

Hiwa argued that no procurement procedure has been flouted and that the process is yet to be completed.

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Malawi News understands that the Thekerani-Bangula road contract was evaluated by David Consulting Engineers and the consultants made a recommendation for the award of this contract to a Chinese firm called Unik Construction Engineering at an evaluated price of K20.6 billion.

An inside source at the RA said when the report reached Hiwa, he “set it aside and single-handedly engaged his procurement engineer to edit the evaluation report”, a result of which saw Mota Engil being recommended for the job.

According to procurement document called Procurement Reference Number RA/DEV/14/13, Mota Engil was at number five at K27 billion while Unik Construction Engineering was at number two at K20 billion.

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In its response to our questionnaire, the ACB admitted having received a complaint on the issues as raised and said the complaint warranted an investigation.

“The Bureau has recorded a complaint in relation to the Thekerani-Bangula road. The Bureau has processed the complaint to see if there is any merit to warrant an investigation. Investigations have not yet commenced,” said ACB’s Senior Public Relations Officer Egritta Ndala.

When asked about the matter, Hiwa said in March: “I am of the view that your inquiry is premature. In fact, I would like to bring it to your attention that your inquiry, your informant and reporting on the matter are likely to jeopardise the procurement process in question which is not yet completed.

“When the procurement process on this project is completed, the results, as is always the case, will be published. At that point, any aggrieved bidder or member of the public like yourself will be free to lodge a complaint on any aspect of the procurement in question.”

Hiwa added: “Further, a thorough background check on the matter should have revealed to you that your questions do not arise. I am convinced that a proper understanding of procurement processes and a reading of the Procurement Act will show that procurement is a process done in groups and consists of different stages and levels of approval and no one individual or group can make a unilateral decision on any procurement whatever their rank is in the organisation.”

When asked again this week on the status of the matter thus far, Hiwa said Roads Authority was still awaiting the approval of the process and No Objections from Kuwait Fund, Badea, Saudi Fund and Opec Fund who are the co-financiers of the project.

Hiwa said on Tuesday that he was not aware of the ACB investigations but was quick to welcome the probe saying the probe will help to clear the misinformation that will be surrounding the project as indicated in the questionnaire.

“We cannot sit in our own cause so an independent party (the ACB) is best placed to deal with the matter. Perhaps it could be wise to continue following the ACB investigation since it will reveal the truth of the matter. I will definitely be keen,” said Hiwa.

According to the Procurement Reference Number RA/DEV/14/13, which shows that the tender was opened at 10.00am on November 19 2015, there are 11 companies listed down with Sino Hydro at position one which charged K17 billion seconded by Unik Construction Engineering whose charge was K20 billion and Conduri at third position with K22 billion.

China Railway No 5 came fourth at the cost of K25 billion and Mota Engil at position five to the tune of K27 billion and AFFECC at position six at K28 billion.

Sadoggm Al Kuwait came on position seven at K29 billion while WBHO at position eight at K32 billion and Hilary Construction ltd at position nine at K35 billion. At number 10 is Solga-Sngom at K35 billion and Avic Inil at number 11 at K53 billion.

The project seeks to upgrade the 92-km road to Bitumen Standard Class 1.

The road passes through an area of high agricultural activity which supplies the country with such produce as tea and bananas.

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