Friday, December 1, 2023

Chinese company wins another mega construction project contract

A Chinese company with deep roots in Botswana has won a lucrative multi-million pula contract for a mega construction project, easily outbidding six local and five foreign competitors.

Resultantly, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) will, in two weeks’ time (August 1) start the construction of a 90-kilometre gravel road network and drainage systems for the eastern area of Pandamatenga Farms at a cost of P180 million. The drainage systems will comprise of about 100km of open drain excavation of about 1.2 million cubic metres. The construction, which is part of the Pandamatenga Agricultural Infrastructure Development Project, is being financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and is scheduled to take 24 months.

All told, 11 companies put in bids through international competitive bidding. The locally-registered ones were Unik Construction, Kalcon, BASH, China Jiangsu International and a joint venture of CSC & EC and Landmark. Unik Construction put in a P215 million bid which was rejected on account of being higher than CCECC’s. At P173 million, Kalcon’s bid was the lowest but this was not an advantage because the company was eliminated in the preliminary stage before the price evaluation could be carried out. Similar fate befell BASH which quoted P237 million. China Jiangsu International, which quoted P216 million, didn’t reach the price evaluation stage because its bid was non-responsive at the technical and qualification evaluation stages. The CSC & EC and Landmark joint venture quoted P203 million was also eliminated at the preliminary stages and its price never evaluated.

The foreign bidders were Conduril from Portugal which lost because it quoted a price (P286 million) that was higher than the lowest responsive evaluated bidder. Lone Rock Construction from South Africa (P306 million) was disqualified on the same grounds. COVEC from China (P236 million) and Stefanutti+ Stocks from South Africa (P193 million) were both eliminated for a non-responsive (technical and qualification) bid.  Murray & Roberts, a South African company with offices in Gaborone, quoted P226 million and was eliminated in the preliminary stage.

The tender evaluation was done by AfDB officials in Ivory Coast and it is interesting to speculate what would have happened had the task been carried out locally. According to sources, the highest-scoring tender for the Kazungula Bridge project was from a Chinese company called China Major Bridge Engineering Corporation. However, the company was passed up for the job in favour of the second-best bidder ÔÇô Daewoo Engineering and Construction, a South Korean company which built the Serowe-Orapa road to acceptable engineering standards in the 1980s. The reason for electing Daewoo over the actual winner was due to the fact that with the experiences of Morupule B, Sir Seretse Khama International Airport and other poorly-executed mega construction projects, the Botswana government has lost faith in the workmanship of Chinese construction companies. Much to the chagrin of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Chinese Embassy, President Ian Khama told a South African newspaper in 2013 that Chinese companies will be blacklisted for their track record of poor workmanship.


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