Monday, January 17, 2022

For the president’s eyes only: PPABD foils corruption cartel’s plan?

The Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) has rejected a tender award recommendation by the Department of Roads for the Charles Hill ÔÇô Ngcojane Road, which was the subject of a whistle blower’s letter addressed “for the president’s eyes only”.

The whistle blower, whose name is known to the Sunday Standard, wrote to President Ian Khama in July, detailing how the Department of Roads had been held hostage by a corruption cartel and had decided to award the Charles Hill ÔÇô Ngcojane tender to an alleged member of the cartel even before the tender was advertised.

The Whistle blower wrote the letter in July, before the project was advertised and the final adjudication of bids by PPADB was only due last Friday. True to the whistle-blower’s claim, the company that he alleged had been awarded the tender even before it was advertised was one of the remaining two companies on the shortlist, tied at 77 points a piece.

The tie-breaker was to be the bid amount, with the company pitching the lowest bid walking away with the tender. As it turned out, the company that was allegedly earmarked for the award by the cartel had the lowest bid of slightly more than P550 million, with the competitor bidding at more than P600 million. Other contractors, with a bigger net worth and longer track record that had bid lower than P500 million had been disqualified under controversial circumstances.

Apparently smelling a rat, the PPADB last week would not proceed with the opening of financial bids and returned the tender back to the Department of Roads. At the time of going to press, it was not clear if the department would put up the project for retender.

It is believed that the curious tender is part of an investigation by the DCEC.

The report addressed “for the president’s eyes only” and implicating the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) in the corruption cartel was triggered by allegations of corruption in the award of the “Shoulder Construction, Resealing and Road Marking of Sebina Junction/ Masunga Road 50km, which was also awarded to Bango Trading”.??

In his report, the whistle blower, who offers secretarial and consultancy services for one of the companies implicated in the Roads Department alleged corruption, says the owner confided in him that Roads management told him that they would award the tender to a contractor they trust would employ his company as subcontractor and would not cheat him.??

The company owner, who is a multi-millionaire with huge business interests also in the agricultural sector, allegedly also confided that he had an argument with the Roads command over the award of the tender to Bango Trading.

The whistle blower says the multi millionaire company owner was warned by Department of Roads high command that if he persisted in opposing the Bango Trading bid “he will not be considered for Charles Hill ÔÇô Ncojane Road”.

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