The Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited (BPCL) in one more effort to clear the cloud over the City Buses procured by it held a press briefing yesterday saying once again that the tender process was fair that that the quality and maintenance of buses would not be issue.
Earlier BPCL had come under fire from a losing bidder over controversial tendering practices in June 2012. To add this recently many professional car dealers and garages claimed that the Chinese buses could face difficulties in acquiring spare parts and that most of them did not know how to repair or maintain such buses.
The BPCL managing director Tseten Geltsen said, “The Corporation (BPCL) and the suppliers have signed an agreement which allows BPCL to fully hold the suppliers (Global traders and Gangung driving center) accountable if any technical malfunction arises on the buses during its operation in the city.”
He said the agreement clearly defines that the supplier should have a properly based workshop for the servicing of the buses and if any spare parts are to be required immediately then the suppliers should provide it as well. “We will hold the suppliers responsible should anything happen,” the MD said.
The MD also said that if the buses break down and takes more than a day or two to be repaired then the supplier of the bus would bear all the costs for missing its daily schedule .This means that the corporation will have to hire a bus to operate in place of the damaged bus until it is repaired.
Manager of Global traders, Pema Wangchuk who was also available for comments at the press conference yesterday said that his company assures that technical experts from abroad will be called in to attend to any malfunctions. The BPCL MD said that, BPCL has asked the suppliers to train some of its mechanics as well for any urgent repairs.
The BPCL MD said that some of the allegations made by media houses and other entities could affect the Indo-Bhutan friendship. He said BPCL had not opted for TATA not because it wanted to acquire Chinese buses but considering the quality needed for the Bhutanese roads. “We never specify brands.” He said, “We never said we don’t want TATA buses,” and said that this is determined by the open tender process and not the BPCL.He also denied any foul practices during the tendering process claiming it to have been a done under proper process.
The MD said that BPCL is happy with the buses that have arrived but he said it is yet to be seen how it performs. The MD also said that he had ‘sleepless nights’ worried about the standard of the buses after the media outcry on its procurement.
However, the losing bidder and Managing Director of Samden Vehicles is not convinced by BPCL’s statements on a proper procurement process.
MD of the Samden Vehicles Kouenleg Gyeltshen said, “I stands firm on my statement given earlier that the procurement was not fair considering the fact that a new condition was made even after the tender document was opened which is not legal”. He said,” The final allotment was done based on this new condition of pictures”.
This paper had earlier found that BPCL did not have a procurement rule so according to its procurement officer it had complied with the procurement rules drafted by the finance ministry. Under the finance ministry rules, no changes can be made after the tender document has been opened.