AGENCY SUSPENDS 26 MILLION DOLLARS PURCHASE 18 Mar, 2017
By Dawit Endeshaw
Public Procurement and Property Administration Agency has suspended a long overdue and a very controversial multimillion dollar purchase process by the Ministry of Education.
The suspension has come following a complaint filed by ZTE Corporation, a Chinese multinational telecom company which is one of the competitors in the tender process.
The Agency after hearing the compliant from the bidder has issued a letter ordering the ministry to abort the award of the tender to another company. The suspension which was issued this week in a letter signed by Negash Bonke, head of the compliant department at the agency will remain effective until the Agency investigates the complaint and responds on it.
The letter, in addition to aborting the award process, has requested the Ministry to send every possible document concerning the tender process. It includes tender documents; proposal both financial and technical submitted by the bidders and minutes records.
“We suspend the tender process because we believe there were reasonable points mentioned by the ZTE which back the action,” sources from the Agency told The Reporter.
“When such compliant filed by any bidder first we look into their case to decide if it is worth investigating,” the same sources said.
ZTE Corporation has claimed in its letter that it deserved to win the tender. It argued that it fitted in both technical and pre technical evaluation as well as it listed a lowest price offer in comparison to the company which was to be awarded by the ministry.
It can be recalled that the Ministry have sent award notification letter to a Chinese company called Anhui Telecommunication Engineering Co Plc Ltd. The Company was declared as a winner with a bid price of 26.4 million dollars. On the other hand ZTE Corp., which appeared in the bid in a joint venture with ZTE Ethiopia, listed 18.5 million dollars.
Following the award to Anhui, ZTE has complained to the Ministry. However, the case was dropped by the Ministry.
The purchase is part of the country’s General Education Quality Improvement Package (GEQIP). It is a project known as a school net which aims to connect 300 schools and 10 universities. It will allow schools to share information. The winning company will be expected to install and commission the project.
The finance for the whole project came from a number of international organizations mainly World Bank, UK Department of International Development (DFID) and US Agency for International Development (USAID)
This is not the first time that this tender has been floated for bidding. Back in 2015, the same project was awarded to a company called Inspur Group at a total cost of 20 million dollars. However the award was later cancelled following a compliant logged by bidders which accused Inspur of submitting a false document which helped the company to win the bid. Upon, the information and its own investigation, the Ministry snatched the award from Inspur and re-tendered the project.
This has led Inspur to be barred by the Agency until 2018.
Such patterns of controversy surrounding the tender process have significantly delayed the project. It was initially planned to be completed and operational in July 2016.
Given the latest order by the Agency, the investigations might take months to complete.