Suidani wants re-tender for Fiu Bridge Project
MALAITA Provincial Government wants the National Government to re-tender the Fiu Bridge Project because the cost of construction is higher than the US$5.1million (SBD$40m) offered by the government.
Premier Daniel Suidani revealed his executive’s stand on the Fiu Bridge Project in response to what he claimed as misinformation circulating about Malaita Provincial Government (MPG) and the Fiu Bridge Project.
According to Mr. Suidani, MPG understands that the tender process is yet to be fully completed.
“That means an official award of the tender is yet to be made by responsible authorities,” Mr. Suidani said in a statement sent from Taiwan, Friday.
“We know that SIG already put a price of US$5.1m as the cost for the construction of the bridge as advertised in the tender in December 2020.
“In other words the US$5.1m is the limit set by SIG.
“What is important to note is that this is the price the SIG puts out for any company that is interested in building the Fiu Bridge,” Mr. Suidani said.
He said in the case of Fiu Bridge Project the tender process was conducted under the World Bank Procurement Regulations.
However, he said his government learnt that after the tender closed, no bidder had bided to the amount set by the national government.
“What we are aware of is that after the bidding there is no bidder that has a bid that is within the budget or the quoted price of US$5.1m.
“We have been informed that there is one bidder who made a bid with a price higher than the price quoted in the tender. We will come to that later.
“We have been informed that there are a number of companies that have collected the tender papers but ended up not submitting any bids.
“The reason for doing this is simple.
“The price quoted by SIG is too low for them in terms of their view of the cost of the work required to build the bridge.
“What we have here is a situation where this particular procurement has failed,” Mr. Suidani said.
“It is a failed procurement because there is no one that can do the work for the US$5.1m quoted in the tender. Since this particular procurement has failed to attract any bidder that is close to the price.
“The most appropriate thing to do is to go back and revisit the scope of work and or come up with a new budget under a new procurement.
“Why? Because the previous procurement of US$5.1m had failed.
“Let’s go back to the story of the only company that had put in a bid. But before we do that let’s be clear about one key element in a procurement and tender process.
“That is, a procurement or tender process must be fair to all that are willing to participate in the bidding. Fairness is important in any tender processes.
“What we have at the moment is that there is only one bidder, China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
“For this one bidder MPG has credible information that the bid that was submitted by CHEC is US$8.5m.
“In other words CHEC is saying to SIG that it is willing to do the work but at a price of US$8.5m and not US$5.1m.
“This price that is offered by CHEC is nearly double the price put out by SIG in its tender.
“This is where the fairness in a procurement and tender process comes in,” the premier said.
“If SIG is willing to award the tender to CHEC for a price of US$8.5m – a price that is far above the US$5.1m quoted in the tender document – this is a case of unfair practice in a tender process.
“The other companies were not able to bid because the tender quoted price was US$5.1m and not the price that SIG now seems to be willing to give CHEC which is US$8.5m.
“Should the tender be quoted at a higher price of US$8.5m that CHEC is offering, there is no doubt that the other companies would have submitted their bids.
“In any procurement this amounts to an unfair tendering process,” he said.
“In addition to that the experience that MPG has had so far in regards to this Fiu project is that SIG is forcing the MPG Executive to accept this company even though they know this is unfair in a tender process.
“Is this a fairer way to deal with important infrastructure issues in the country?”
The premier said senior government officials from responsible ministries have also contacted him when he was in Honiara and members of his executive regarding the tender.
“…the continued phone calls from MPGIS and CAUCUS show a clear pattern of coercion and unfair pressure.
“In any tendering this is a very unclean way of dealing with tender and in no way should a tender process be addressed like this,” Mr Suidani said.
He said it is based on these issues highlighted that he wanted to reiterate the position of the MPG that a re-tender is the most appropriate thing to do.
“…with the pricing issue, the unfair tender process and the coercion and forceful attitude of the officials responsible for the tender, these are issues that would be difficult to be accepted under the World Bank procurement regulations,” he said.
Therefore, he said the Malaita Provincial Executive last month made an executive decision not to accept CHEC to upgrade the Fiu Bridge in his absence.
He said this decision did not go down well with some of the non-executive members which forced some of them to hold a private meeting at Gwaunaru’u two weeks ago to plan a protest against the MPG Executive’s decision.
The protest was planned to take place Friday last week but did not happen.
A former Malaita provincial secretary who attended the meeting Harold Leka confirmed the meeting and its agenda to this paper.
He said the meeting was to get views from the people in Wards 2 and 3 to see if they can stage a protest against the MPG Executive’s decision on Fiu Bridge.
By WILSON SAENI
Auki News Bureau