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The decision by government to open the lucrative multi million Pula Central Medical Stores logistics management contract for bidding is being frustrated by what is believed to be attempts to rig the tender.
The contract is still managed by Botswana Couriers, a private company that is wholly owned by Botswana government more than a year since their contract lapsed and an invitation to tender for the new contract was floated.
The tender was first advertised in July 2017 and as part of the prerequisites bidding companies were required to have an ISO 9001 certification because the Central Medical Stores is ISO certified. Bids were submitted and technical proposals were opened.
Botswana Couriers however failed the qualification stage because it is not ISO certified and only one company Imperial Health Sciences qualified. Instead of awarding the tender to Imperial Health Services, CMS then decided to lower its prequalification standards apparently to accommodate its preferred bidder.
Subsequently, the tender was cancelled and later re-advertised this time without the ISO 9001 certification requirement. The same companies that had submitted bids were invited to retender. The second submission was completed complete with the technical evaluation and short listing of companies that qualified to proceed to the next stage of financial bids. According to the PPADB website, the three companies that qualified were Imperial Health Services (Pty) Ltd bidder 1, Gabcon – Raclaw Corporation JV-Bidder 2 and Botswana Couriers and Logistics as Bidder 5.
Financial bids were opened with Imperial health Sciences quoting the lowest at P250 million and Botswana Couriers the highest at P450 million. However, instead of completing the adjudication process and awarding the tender, CMS has extended the tender validation.
So far the tender committee has extended the tender validation twice, the most recent being from July 20th to October 20th 2018 which is nine months since the bids were opened. Meanwhile Botswana Couriers is the major beneficiary of what appears to be a dithering by the tender committee.
There are unconfirmed reports that the tender committee is planning to vary the scope of the tender to favour their preferred bidder.
Botswana Couriers was contracted to manage the CMS for three years. The contract elapsed last year, but the government owned company is still managing the CMS logistic business because the tender committee has delayed in awarding the tender.
Botswana Couriers initially got the tender by direct appointment. Under this contract, Central Medical Stores handles as part of its annual budget consignments worth over P2 billion of all that have to be ferried and shipped by the contracted courier company to selected medical facilities across the country. Government pays just under P5 million a month to the courier that handles the job. In a breakneck competition industry, this has left many courier companies salivating.