BPCL clarifies the city bus tender issue, Bidders still unconvinced

The Nu 44.6mn city bus tendering process was alleged unfair by the Samden vehicles last week. The issue when raised at the recent Meet the Press was dismissed as “too petty an issue to be raised at this level” by the Prime Minister.

The PM said ministers do not deal with these tendering processes.

On the sidelines of the meet the information and communications minister Nandalal Rai said that the claims made by the bidders that ‘the sample picture was approved by the cabinet’ is not true.

He said “The cabinet doesn’t have expertise on such matters”.

The sample picture of the bus was submitted by the Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited (BPCL) during a presentation made to the cabinet. Earlier the managing director of the BPCL Tseten Geltsen said that it was the cabinet that approved a sample picture submitted by BPCL.

“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,” said Kouenleg Gyeltshen the MD of Samdhen Vehicles.

He said “if the tender I bought had mentioned that a specific picture was required then we would have provided it”.

This decision by the BPCL did not comply with the procurement rules of the Public Procurement and Policy Division (PPPD) under the MoF.

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 deadline has passed.

In a clarification letter sent by the Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited (BPCL) the corporation said that the catalogues submitted by Samden Vehicles and the one other bidder STCBL were of model TATA LPO 1512/55 which is in contrast to the model mentioned in the bid (LP 1512/47 WB BS III).

The BPCL letter said that the five TATA city buses which are operating right now in Thimphu have started giving problems in their first year of operation. On this the Samden Vehicles managing director Kouenleg Gyeltshen said that the TATA city buses model LP 1512 has not been supplied by the Samden Vehicles.

The TATA buses model LP 1512 that was mentioned in the letter on the other hand was supplied by the State Trading Corporation of Bhutan Limited (STCBL).

The STCBL general manager, Dawa Lham said that those buses were supplied according to the specifications of the BPCL. She also added that during the fabrication works in Jaigaon, India the BPCL officials including the managing director of BPCL frequently monitored the fabrication and coloring works alongside the STCBL officials.

She said that these allegations were completely baseless considering the fact that all works were closely monitored by both STCBL and BPCL. “Now the city buses will be of Chinese make and the Bhutanese market is not familiar with Chinese automobiles so apparently the maintenance of spare parts and service will be very difficult,” according to the STCBL GM.

Furthermore the letter stated that sealed quotations were opened on June 21, 2012 at 10.30am in the presence of the representatives of the suppliers who had submitted their quotations. It also stated that the committee in order to give equal opportunities to the bidders, decided to ask for a catalogue meeting their specifications from all the participating firms.

This new decision by the BPCL did not comply with the procurement rules of the PPPD.

Although all the firms submitted catalogues/brochures with bus pictures the very next day it did not differ much from the ones submitted earlier. So, the committee decided to award the contract for the supply of city buses on the basis of the catalogues submitted which met most of their specifications.

The contract was awarded to Global traders and Gangung driving center.

On this the Samden Vehicles MD said in comparison his total price for the 15 buses which met all specifications was Nu 32.2mn which is cheaper by Nu 12.4mn.

The Samden Vehicles MD 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”. He said that this would have not-only informed us in advance but it would have helped us to give them the picture they wanted”.

The BPCL had also mentioned about the catalogue which the Samden Vehicles had attached, a picture of a bus (BS II &six cylinders) along with the initial tender document for the supply of the medium city buses (model LP 713/38)  which did not meet the specifications mentioned in the tender document.

This however according to the Samden vehicles managing director was just an illustration but the specifications that was mentioned in his tender clearly agreed on most of the terms except for five clauses which was to have the buses equipped with Vehicle tracking system, get off ring, air-conditioning, radio set for communication and a specific level of floor type which had to be minimum.

To this the BPCL stated that their committee could not consider the validity of  the statement provided by the Samden vehicles as there was a very high degree of vagueness in the brochure and the statement submitted.

The second brochure which was submitted by the Samden vehicles and the STCBL were of model LP 712/42 BSIII which the BPCL said were not suitable to be used as city buses.

That said, the actual problem that The Bhutanese reported on the BPCL’s non-compliance with the Procurement rules Drafted by the finance ministry during the bidding was not mentioned in the letter.

Apparently, the Corporation is yet to draft their own procurement rules for the specific purposes. Despite the allegations made on the BPCL by various firms, the BPCL said that the committee’s decision was to ensure that the government’s mandate to provide safe, reliable, efficient and attractive urban transport is fulfilled to provide user friendly city buses.

The BCPCL claimed that the orders have been placed.

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  1. “The sample picture of the bus was submitted by the Bhutan Postal Corporation Limited (BPCL) during a presentation made to the cabinet. Earlier the managing director of the BPCL Kouenleg Gyeltshen said that it was the cabinet that approved a sample picture submitted by Samden Vehicles.
    “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,” said Kouenleg Gyeltshen.”

    Mr Yeshey,What are you trying to say??You mean Mr.Kouenleg is the MD of BPCL and also he bought the tender document and found it is against the procurement rule?
    I don’t know about other readers but I didn’t get what you want to say exactly?Your article needs thorough re-editing I guess.
    Whatever it is,mark my word Samden is also one firm who makes lots of hue and cry when they do not get any tender and their service just sucks man.If BPCL didn’t follow the proc.rule let some independent committee do re evaluation.Samden’s business ethics is a very questionable one.Everyone knows about it.

  2. The govt has a policy of not promoting briefcase type businesses. All firms must have a physical presence and those that supply vehicles are supposed to have an after sales presence especially if they are interested in participating in government tenders.

    Global Traders seems to be truly global in that they only have a sales presence and that too not very visible. Seems to rather fit the profile of the briefcase biz until they got well connected after 2008 and a couple of weddings later. 

    By the government’s own standards, Global Traders should have been rejected at the tendering stage itself. How come they are now even winning tenders, and that too major ones?

  3. Tshering Gyelsten

    DPT is like congress in India scam after scams….. gellloooo

  4. since the amount is huge, i truly believe that there is corruption. we would like the opposition leader to look into this matter He is the only hope we have in such situation. 

  5. Why don’t the concerned authorities conduct a full scale enquiry into this. To me it very much looks like a corruption case where both the PM and MoIC minister are involved. I remember an earlier decree by the Cabinet whereby again their relatives supplying medium range vehicles benefitted. This is shameful and totally unacceptable. 

  6. Dear Yeshey Tshewang am confused who is “Kouenleg Gyeltshen”

    After opening the tender catalog/photo has been asked and awarded base on catalog/photo. what is this? as per my knowledge of tender, clear specification like catalog/photo and type of bus should be provided by procuring agency in the tender document and it is the choice of the agency not bidder. So, bidders will compete for the same specification.
    For me it look like tendering of Building, road, wall and bridge and awarding the work who bid for wall since who bid for wall being son-in-law.
    Please re-tender though, if you want to award to Global award it fairly

    • well the tender document didnot have any catalogues/pictures however after the tender was opened ,as mentioned earlier a new condition was asked, i.e to provide a picture of a bus meeting all the specifications in the tender document. Now please bear in your mind that the initial tender document did nit have any clause which required the Bidders to provide a picture.  And to the point you said on the choice the agency should have rather than the bidder, is the agency is not at all suppose to ask any new conditions after the tender’s been opened. So this is the issue here. Besides the procurring agency had complied the procurement rules drafted by the Finance ministry according to which the incident is a clear violation of government set rules.

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