Apr 13, 2017 News
The decision to extend the tender submission deadline of one of the largest projects for this
year has sparked concerns from bidders.
Tenders were scheduled to be opened for the multi-billion-dollar Sheriff Street/Mandela Avenue Enhancement Project (Lots Six to Seven) on Tuesday at the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB).
However, at the last minute, the opening was cancelled.
Representatives of bidders who reportedly worked around the clock to finish the tender documents, were waiting for the documents to be opened publicly.
It was only when representatives of the respective companies arrived at the NPTAB to witness the opening that they were informed of the extension.
It was revealed that the submission date was extended to May 2 of this year.
Bidders, who asked not to be named, said that they only learnt of the cancellation after their representatives contacted them.
An email informing the bidders of the cancellation was sent after the announcement was made at the Main Street office of the NPTAB.
Contractors subsequently began contacting Kaieteur News raising concerns; questioning the reason for the extension and whether it was done within the confines of the procurement laws.
Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, who was present at a stakeholder consultation exercise in Georgetown yesterday, said that he does not have all the facts at hand and could not definitively state why the deadline was extended.
He referred this publication to the Permanent Secretary (Acting), Geoffrey Vaughn.
Efforts to contact Vaughn yesterday were futile. Multiple calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.
However, former Auditor General (AG) and Chartered Accountant, Anand Goolsarran explained that the situation was highly unusual – based on what he was told.
The former AG noted that according to Section 35(2), of the Procurement Act, if a procuring entity issues clarification or modification of the tender documents, or if a meeting is held with suppliers or contractors, it shall, prior to the deadline, extend the deadline as necessary to allow all bidders enough time to submit their tenders based on the clarification/modification, or the results of the meeting.
Goolsarran noted, also, that in accordance with Section 35(3), prior to the deadline for submission of tenders, the procuring entity may – at its absolute discretion – extend the deadline based on documentary evidence that a supplier or contractor was prevented from meeting the deadline by factors beyond his/her control.
It is still unclear whether all contractors who were supplied bid documents were notified of the extension. Further, it is unclear whether it was a unilateral decision to extend the deadline at the time of opening of the tenders without regard to the considerations provided for by law.
Goolsarran noted that if this is so, then the Procurement Act has been breached and would be appropriate for the works to be re-tendered.
The Sheriff Street–Mandela Avenue Project is being funded by the Inter-American Development Bank. The contract was signed on March 15, 2013.
The scope of works for the Sheriff Street into Mandela Avenue road corridor includes asphaltic pavement, road safety, upgrading traffic intersection signals at each of the major road junctions, and traffic and drainage improvement works.
There is also expected to be structural works to bridges, culverts and other supporting infrastructure.
Pavement works will include the construction of a two-lane roadway with a median partitioning the two lanes along Sheriff Street.
The first section of Mandela Avenue will involve expansion from a two-lane to a four-lane roadway with a median in the centre, while the second section will consist of three lanes.
Contracts in the sum of $50,095,649 were awarded to local companies for the relocation of utilities.
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