Thursday, September 24, 2020

The greedy on the North West Power grid….

When the American singer and superstar ÔÇô Robert Kelly (R.Kelly) sat down to write one of his hit songs ÔÇô “Speaking My language” he might have done that with both the BPC and tender issuance controversy on mind. The two seems to be inseparable given recent reports that the state owned entity is embroiled in yet another controversy relating to issuance of tenders.

BPC’s previous executive team which was led by a local by the name of Jacob Raleru was frequent in the front pages of local newspapers a few years back. The main reason was none other than issues relating to procurement at the utility. Part of the Morupule B tender controversy saw Raleru losing his job at the BPC and was replaced by the incumbent CEO – Dr Stephan Schwarzfischer, a German national.

A few years later, it has since emerged that even the “German Machine” cannot separate the state owned power utility company with controversy.

Just under three weeks back, the nation was shocked after revelations that a “fraudulent” tender worth P1.4 billion has been awarded to CSC & EC (Pty) Ltd on the 23rd August 2018 on behalf of the BPC.

While the letter is signed under his names, the Permanent Secretary in the said ministry – Cornelius Dekop has described the tender as “fraudulent”.

Dekop was summoned by the Parliamentary Committee after Dr Schwarzfischer last week also expressed shock about the tender.

“We have not signed any PPA with anybody and BPC was not consulted about this North-West solar power project,” Dr Schwarzfischer told the Samson Guma Moyo led committee two weeks ago.

This week, the BPC has once again been forced to explain its processes on tender issuance following reports that a Swedish Contractor ELTEL Networks TE AB which formed a consortium with Batswana companies was denied a share on the P2.4 billion North West Power Transmission Grid Project at the expense of Asian companies.

Still on the same project, the BPC has absolved the Indian company known as Consolidated Power Project (CPP) for awarding two local companies belonging to same directors a subcontract work in the North West Grid Project. Pundits maintain that ideally CPP was supposed to sub-contract the work to companies owned by different individuals as a way of spreading wealth amongst citizens.

The BPC has since disputed that the two companies sub contracted by Consolidated Power Project (PTY) belongs to the same directors. The power utility company says a forensic audit was sanctioned following allegations of corruption in the North West Grid P2.4 billion Project and has shown otherwise.

The power utility is expected to hand over all forensic audit regarding corruption allegations in the North West Power Grid to the Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises soon.

Dineo Seleke ÔÇô BPC spokesperson said that the two companies that were awarded subcontract tenders by Consolidated Power Project do not belong to the same individuals according to shareholding documents submitted to the BPC.

The two companies in question, the Sunday Standard has been informed are Boikaego Engineering and Acute Engineering.

Seleke says the shareholding documents submitted to the utility shows that they are not owned by the same shareholders.

According to Seleke, BPC came to know about the shareholding after evaluation of the ownership and shareholding of the two companies at a time when a proposal was made by the main contractor to engage the duo for the North West Transmission Grid Project.

“We can therefore confirm that as per Shareholding documents submitted to BPC at that time the shareholders for both these companies were not the same” Seleke said.

When quizzed on whether they regard the awarding of the two subcontracts by the main contractor to be in line with the Citizen Economic Empowerment policy (CEE) she indicated that the awarding of subcontracts work to the two companies were in line with the country’s Citizen Economic Empowerment (CEE) Policy.

Seleke further noted that as part of the negotiations BPC encouraged all the contractors engaged on the NWTGC to ensure that subcontracting works is split amongst several Citizen Owned Companies so that sub contracting works does not benefit few companies.

According to Seleke the BPC reviewed the proposed names of subcontractors and all other details to ensure that they are 100%citizen owned companies.

According to her BPC has not received any formal complaint from any subcontract or on the awarding of the tenders by Consolidated Power Project (Pty).

The power utility management came under heavy criticism for denying a consortium between a Swedish company ELTEL Networks TE AB and indigenous Batswana an opportunity on the P2.4 billion tender on the basis that there was 40 percent of locals in the consortium.

The Parliamentary Committee on Statutory Bodies and Public Enterprises was fuming after BPC CEO indicated that the consortium was disqualified after it became evident that the consortium failed to meet a threshold of 30 percent as dictated by EDD. According to the BCP boss they could not go against the EDD policy which stated that the tender can be awarded to a company that has 30 percent of indigenous Batswana.

The BCP boss indicated that they have long written a letter to the office of the President seeking clarification on the 30 percent quota since it denied Batswana but there was no response to that effect. However the committee, Chairperson Samson Guma Moyo was of the view that the BPC boss was against empowering Batswana since the 40 percent clearly indicated that more Batswana could benefit as opposed to awarding the tender to Asian companies. 

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