Bidder cries foul in Bhutan Post’s Nu 44 mn City bus tender

A Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited (BPCL) tender for 15 City buses worth Nu 44.6mn has run into controversy, with a bidder Samden Vehicles alleging that procurement rules were not followed.

The main allegation made by Samden Vehicles, a dealer of Tata Motors is that despite being the lowest bidder and meeting all technical specifications the tender committee disqualified the company.

Managing Director of Samden Vehicles, Kouenleg Gyeltshen said, “BPCL violated tender norms by asking for a photo of the bus after opening the bid documents. The photo was not required as per the tender documents.”

When the supplier could not give the committee the photo they wanted then Samden was disqualified.

A Bhutan Post procurement officer refuting the allegations claimed that they had strictly followed the 2009 Procurement rules and regulations issued by the Ministry of Finance.

However, officials at the Public Procurement and Policy division (PPPD) under the, MoF say, that in this case proper procedures was not followed by BPCL.

The PPPD is a special MoF division that drafted the 2009 Procurement rules and regulations and is considered the expert authority on the tendering rules.

According to the PPPD if any government corporation or agencies are inviting tenders then the concerned tendering committee cannot change or add any new conditions after the tender has either been opened or the dateline has passed.

An official from the PPPD said, “When new conditions were asked for, after the tender has been opened then it will definitely favor a specific bidder which is unlawful.”

After Samden was disqualified the tender was awarded to the next lowest bidder. Global Traders a local company known for supplying Chinese vehicles and buses in Bhutan got the tender to supply 11 large buses worth Nu 35.2mn while another company Ganjung which also has a driving school got the order for 4 medium sized buses worth Nu 9.4mn. The total price was Nu 44.6mn.

Kouenleg Gyeltshen said that in comparison his total price for the 15 buses which met all specifications was Nu 32.2mn which is cheaper by Nu 12.4mn.

Kouenleg Gyeltshen said, “If the tender documents I bought had mentioned that a specific picture was required then we would have provided it”.

The Managing director of BPCL, Tseten Geltsen accepted that BPCL did not mention the need to attach a picture in the tender document.

However, it was due to this change of requirements after the tender was opened that some bidders got rejected.

The BPCL managing director said, “The pictures some bidders provided were of low quality comparable to school bus models which are completely not viable”.  He said while some other companies did provide the required pictures but they had to be rejected since the prices were not agreeable.

The Samden vehicles MD said that they assured BPCL they would supply the bus according to the specifications and the picture presented was just an illustration.

Bidders said that prior to the invitations of quotations a picture of a bus had already been approved by the Cabinet following a presentation made by the BPCL officials.

The managing director of the BPCL said that the picture was a sample design which met all the specifications stated in the tender document but that didn’t mean they were expecting the same brand.

However, bidders are more or less disappointed about the fact that the sample picture was not attached to the tender document earlier.

The MD of Samden vehicles said, “If having the right photo was so important then BPCL could have easily given an attachment of the picture approved by the cabinet along with the tender documents. This would have not-only informed us in advance but it would also have helped us in giving them the picture they wanted.”

The BPCL MD claimed that everything had gone according to the guidelines. He said initially a presentation was made to the finance ministry which subsequently released the budget requested by the BPCL under the terms that the buses should be Toyota city buses. But these buses he said were not procured as STCBL couldn’t agree on the requirements and so the general bidders had to be invited.

Other bidders like the STCBL, Toyota and GLT were rejected due to different reasons. The STCBL’s TATA general manager Dawa Lham in Thimphu said,” We didn’t go further on any issue since our price was higher compared to other bidders”.

A total of eight firms bought the tenders from which six submitted.

Meanwhile, a letter from the Tata Motors Office for ‘Bhutan and Nepal’ expresses ‘extreme disbelief’ that the tender was not awarded to Samden Motors given that they had the lowest quote and met all specifications. The letter also says that Tata motors is the only company in Bhutan that can deliver the buses in the specified time period of 3 months while other third country importers would take at least 4 to 5 months. The letter also says that Tata has an extensive set-up of workshops across Bhutan to service Tata vehicles and would have all the necessary spare parts required to maintain a City Bus fleet.

On any future course of action the Samden MD said first he wanted a reply from BPCL after which he would decide on certain steps. For now he said that he had approached some media houses.

The winning bidder declined to give any comments.


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  1. Global Traders? Is that the one owned by Kinley Wangchuk of Trowa Theatre infamy? Also known as the Riverview Mafia? ha ha, just kidding but that’s what they say. Anyway, there would be some connection to our dearly beloved PM as well. 

    Sounds to me like YET another scam in the making.

  2. Why small country like us, there are lots of foul play? From Gyelpozhing Land Grabbing case to this one and many more to come. Author, please go on informing the people of Bhutan so that they are aware how our systems work.
    BPCL might be getting share from it.????????

  3. Hhahaha, Shame on BPCL tender committe, Picture as they said has to be issued to dealers by the Bhutan Post and Suppliers will quote the rate accordingly by looking at the picture and specifications.

    Even if they need to fulfill the picture they have submitted to Cabinet they should not disqualify Samden but they should ask Samden to whether they can Sullpy the Buses as per they picture on their quoted rates.

    It seems that it is totally a corruption and Bhutan Post should re-tender it otherwise Anticorruption might have to intervene.

  4. Tshering Gyelsten

    what can u expect from MD BPCL? He reached to this positions with tilt and corrupt practices…Global is royal company, samden need not try to fight you will lose your case any way….Is now gangjung also have daughter and son engaged to hifi….. it is suprising to know and new found connections…

  5. Very interesting article. I am just bluffed by the way tender system works in Bhutan. Isn’t the reason why they have tenders to get the lowest bidder? What is happening in Bhutan now? If the corruptions keeps piling, result will lead to dirty politics in near future. This is so unacceptable. Well, Bhutan Post MD will feel the heat very soon from Aum Neten Zangmo. Here Samden is trying to save money for the government yet, they went for higher bidder. One day, Bhutan will just be like Nepal. Too sad too see country is destroying.

  6. The ministry must call for a new tender as it is clear that some hanky panky has taken place. If we in Bhutan can’t even get something like a tender be done without any controversy, than we are in thick shit.

  7. @apkado-  you are right! its not river view KW its JYT again. just do some backgrounding on Global Traders and you got it there. JYT’s son-in-law bidded for the work. the person who represented Global Traders for this work happened to be MOIC minister Nandalal’s son-in-law. while PM head this draconican govt, nandu has direct influence on transport system being the moic honcho. now what do we do about these dirty ,illmemnded leaders?

  8. Sounds BPCL is unfair here but mark my word Samden is also a firm not to be trusted and very unreliable.A firm who does illegal business too

  9. Like someone said, everything under this government seems to become a flop Just look at the chain of events.

    First they come up with a stupid Pedestrian Day idea. People start complaining that the govt hasn’t thought it through. Govt reacts by rushing through a new plan to make up by adding more buses (as though that was the real problem). They stubbornly cling to their PeDay decision hoping more buses will resolve everything.

    Then they get their lackey in the BPCL to make up for the slack by ordering more buses (where did the budget emerge from suddenly?) who obediently floats a tender to buy 15 more buses. But obedience he took too far by somehow ending up supporting the bidding company owned by PM’s son-in-law.

    Coincidence? Naah. It’s just another day in our lives under the DPT! 

  10. What the hell is happening? Lyonchhen Jigmi Yoser Thinley is corrupt through and through. I am ashamed to have voted for DPT in 2008.

  11. i heard SAMDEN could not even provide the basic requirement of  a city bus which is two hydraulic doors for entry and exit. also TATA had supplied some city buses which were fabricated in jaigoan.
    no one tries save money for the government, that is bullshit. 

    media in bhutan love to gossip without doing any substantive investigation. they should check Samden’s background on how they came and set up business in bhutan. if samden is not happy in bhutan, he should go back to nepal where he can bribe away. 

  12. Bhutan post is an ill managed Corporation by a corrupt man who has no trace of moral values and ethics

  13. Wow Prime Ministers son -in-law  , son of Kinley wangchuk of Trowa fame got the contract for the city buses? I was really wondering who the owner of Global Traders was because they got the contract inspite of Samden   Who quoted Nu 12.4 mn less than Global traders   . now we know why this pedestrian day was initiated and inspite  of  public complaints is still being forced upon us . PM had a car dealer son in law who would solve our city bus problems at Nu  44.6 mn     

  14. Save the limited resources of Bhutan Post. Go for RETENDERING.
    Please follow the standard Procurement manuals/guidelines developed by PPPD, MoF. Save Bhutan post and Bhutan from such practice.
    I feel pity on this. What a shame on the tender Committee members.

  15. Glorified Clerk

    Why should Bhutan Post have to buy the buses through these local dealers, adding on to the cost and having to indulge in all these corrupt practices? Buy it directly from the companies (car manufacturers) instead since the order is quite big.

  16. Corrigendum and/or Clarifications:The views provided on request by PPPD,MoF has been wrongly reflected.
    The reporter approached the office of Public procurement Policy Division(PPPD),MoF and sought clarifications on the tender documents issued by BPCL for above-mentioned procurement.At the outset only said to him that as per procurement rules and regulations 2009 corporations may adopt separate rules and regulations for the management of their procurements and as such the existing bidding document issued by PPPD,MoF may not be relevant in such case.The PPPD did not comment on the procedures followed by BPCL as they did not use the documents issued by PPPD. The PPPD,however, said that as per the Procurement Rules and Regulations 2009( if guided by PRR 2009),generally no new conditions or criteria can be introduced after the opening of tender as it can be abused.

    The views expressed by PPPD was on the interpretations and applications of the PRR 2009 and other supporting documents.

    • Thank you for your feedback. This is the reporter Yeshey Tshewang here. As you will see in the story, the BPCL procurement officer has said that he has used the PRR 2009 issued by the PPPD under MoF. I am also informed that BPCL does not as yet have a separate tender rule. So as BPCL followed the PRR 2009 the condition of not having any new clauses was applicable. We also have voice recordings of various conversations and interviews on the matter which we can provide to you for your satisfaction. 

      Thank You

      Yeshey Tshewang (Reporter) 

      • Dear The Bhutanese
        You r true as per MoF BPCL cannot have separate PRR to contradict the bidder. If i remember PRR2009 all r general condition but there is two section known as “Special Condition Of Contract” and Bidding Data Sheet” where procuring agency can edit and he can mention about producing of photo of city bus. The Question here is how com so called Global Trader came up with photo and qualified which was not mention by the procuring agency.Wat i mean is something which is not mentioned in “Special Condition of Contract and Bidding Data sheet” should not carry any weightage in evaluation.

    • mr.  Leki i think you have done nothing wrong and there is nothing to be worried about..Your office i suppose is to maintain that docorum if not to enforce it. And taking the article into consideration you did that. Its part of your job to explain if any lapses happens in these matters.

  17. I agree with Glorified clerk, buy it directly from the car manufacturers, so that we save both time and money. I am sure the specifications required shoud be of no problem, given that the countries where the vehicles are manufcatured have many city buses plying.

  18. very very wise man……good trick 2 award tender

  19. looks like Bhutan Post is taking the Rupee crunch very seriously, so the committee has decided to go for Chinese made bus and not TATA, so only dollar will go out. TATA motors have very reliable spare parts which are very cheap and easy to maintained. if we go for Chinese made bus, who is going to pay for the expensive spare parts which will be supplied only by Global Traders. Looks like Bhutan Post is committed to give global traders life long business. i wounder how much percentage the MD and committee members have received for the contract.  samden is fighting a lost battle after all this is BHUTAN where backing matters.

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