Monday, July 6, 2020

Government probes Kgosi’s ally over cost inflation of Mahalapye Prison fence

Government is said to be investigating the reasons behind the multi-million tender cost escalation for the construction of the Mahalapye Prison fence.

The fence was constructed by Defence Concepts which was one of the preferred suppliers of Directorate of Intelligence and Security Services (DISS) when its former director Isaac Kgosi was at the helm of the intelligence entity. 

There are even claims that the intervention of the Office of the President has led to the delay of government paying the company an outstanding balance. 

Responding to the Sunday Standard queries, the company’s director Teezzarh Seduke maintained that there was no standoff between Defence Concept and OP. Sources within government enclave claim that the government is suspecting that tender prices are likely to have been inflated, a claim that Seduke denies.

“We state yet again, that there is no dispute in the outstanding balance. As the Project Coordinators, it is in the interest of the Office of the President to ensure that the project runs smoothly in as far as contractor deliverables and client payments are concerned,” he said.

He added: “It is therefore expected that the Office of the President should express any position on the progress and performance of both the client and contractor, concerning the project.” The supervision of the tender has been controversial. While the tender fell below the purview of the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security, it was coordinated by the DIS.

On reports that the government has taken a decision to delay the payment of the outstanding balance with a view to investigate some of the suspicious transactions, Seduke said: “We are not aware that there is reluctance or refusal by the Ministry of Defence, Justice and Security to pay our company, being Defence Concepts Botswana.”

He said: “If perhaps you have confused “delay” with “reluctance or refusal, then my response is that it is not an abnormal occurrence, hence the recent drive by the Ministry of Finance and Development planning, on reducing payment delays by government departments for rendered goods and services by the private sector. We are confident that work-done shall be settled as per expectation of any service provider.”

He said refusal for payment has not been communicated or implied to his company.

“Interim payments for work done have been remitted as expected, albeit with common government delays. The project is at the final stage of closure and commissioning,” he said. Seduke denied that the contract was awarded through a single source tendering process.

“This project followed a transparent procurement process, which commenced with an invitation for “Expression of Interest”, to the general public. As such, all financial and technical information is available within the public domain. Defence Concepts Botswana has been paid for work done amounting to approximately P49 million,” he said.

He said Defence Concepts Botswana was in the process of preparing a closure-claim based on “our final measurements, “s such we can only confirm balance once client has approved same.”

He said the tender, was a transparent procurement invitation to which two companies made it to the final bid invitation stage.

“The financial bid offers that were publicly announced (at tender opening) were approximately P39 Million and P49 Million respectively. The financial bids (tendered amounts) were considered as 3 a second evaluation stage, precluded by the technical bids to which compliance assessment of the respective companies was first considered. In our view, this followed standard procedures as per applicable PPADB procurement processes,” said Seduke.

Seduke still insisted that there was no dispute adding that there has not been inflation in their pricing.

“The project cost has risen due to the impracticality of installing the security fence on the initial demarcated lines due to underground services and strict Standard Operating Procedures on Security of an operational prison facility,” said Seduke.

He said as such the variation was caused by the change in the coverage length and for the record, we charged client at the same rate as our original bid.

“While it is not permissible to photograph security facilities like prisons, I would like to encourage Batswana to visit the prison and see this installation first hand and hopefully have an appreciation of what can be achieved by young indigenous Batswana,” said Seduke.

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