Despite controversy Bhutan post goes ahead with procurement of 15 Chinese buses

Tashi Wangmo / Thimphu

Amidst controversies where local bidders challenged the manner in which the Bhutan Post Corporation Limited (BPCL) conducted the Nu 44.6mn city bus tender, the corporation has decided to go ahead with the procurement of the 15 Chinese buses.

The BPCL insisted that the tendering process was done in a fair manner and it had followed the procurement rules.

“The tender is still valid and the tender committee will continue the procurement of the city buses,” said the Transport Officer, who is also a member of the tender committee.

The BPCL stated that during the bidding process, there were two criteria to fulfill; the specification being one and the brochure was another.

An official from the BPCL said the invitation of sealed quotations for supply of city buses was faxed to all the 12 eligible suppliers to call on their participation and also ask for a rebate offered on each bus depending on the quality ordered.

Eight firms purchased the tender documents but only six had quoted.

The quotation was opened on 21 June, 2012.

On evaluation of the bids the tender committee had found that the catalogue attached with the tender documents did not meet the specifications agreed upon by bidders.

The official said the committee was not convinced by the attached catalogues, so in order to give equal opportunity to all bidders, the committee called for a catalogue meeting the specifications from all bidders.

The next day, all the firms submitted the catalogues with bus pictures but all were similar to the ones submitted earlier, so the committee decided to award the work to the firm meeting most of the specifications.

Th tender therefore was awarded to Global Traders and  Gangjung.

Global Traders is owned by the PM’s son in law and the company at the time of the tender process was represented  by the information and communications minister’s son in law.

The proprietor of Gangjung is Ugyen Tenzin.

The BPCL’s Managing Director, Tseten Geltsen said based on what has been reported and if at all there was any issue, he said the government authorities like the Ministry of Finance and the Royal Audit Authority could do an enquiry.

“Right now everything is in order and it is done,” said the MD.

The MD added the contract was on and that there was no basis for calling a re-tender and cancellation of these buses.

Tseten Geltsen  said the order had already been placed and the concerned agencies, Global Traders (supplier of Chinese vehicles) and Gangjung will be delivering the buses in three months’ time.

“When the buses arrives it will be there for all to see and people will know on what grounds the BPCL awarded the tender to the concerned agencies,” said Tseten Geltsen .

The bus which has been approved is a model city bus of the Golden Dragon Company.

The BPCL MD said there could also be cancellation of these buses if not delivered in three month’s time.

Earlier, bidders who participated in the tender process said it was not conducted fairly and in line with procurement rules.

“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 the Managing Director (MD) of Samden Vehicles, Kouenleg Gyeltshen.

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.

Last week the BPCL clarification letter stated that the catalogues submitted by Samden Vehicles and 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 letter stated that the five TATA city buses which are currently in operations in Thimphu started to give problems in their first year. On this the Samden Vehicles MD 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 was supplied by the State Trading Corporation of Bhutan Limited (STCBL).

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

“Now the city buses will be of Chinese make and the Bhutanese market is not familiar with Chinese automobiles, so the maintenance of spare parts and service will be very difficult,” said the STCBL General Manager.

Further, the BPCL 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 to Global traders and Gangjung on the basis that they met most of their specifications.

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.

He 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 this would have not-only informed bidders in advance but it would also have helped to give 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.

The Samden vehicles MD said this 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.

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

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24 comments

  1. I’m telling you, Bhutan has become like the wild west. Anything can happen if there is enough backing. The BPC MD would never have the guts to do go ahead when there is a looming procurement scandal of such a huge tender without some push from behind. Whenever there is a complaint the complaint must be addressed properly to the satisfaction of organizations like the RAA or ACC before going ahead.

    He would have to have real guts because misprocurement is corruption and his neck is on the line. Why would he put his neck on the line for someone else’s profit? It’s because he understands that the PM and one other minister will be very pleased with him. 

    Now it’s up to ACC to take action. No more sleeping for many months ACC, because the bugger’s already placed the order and the buses are expected in 3 months!  If the ACC sleeps one more time I’m going to give up on them and Bhutan.

    • Apkado, I agree with you that the tender should have been canceled as there seems to be some controversy and this was my stand as soon as this news broke. I am however, equally surprised that Samden Motors that filed this complaint has not taken their case to the ACC., without which the ACC can not do anything.

      Peach, we don’t need to have trade relations with any country to import goods into Bhutan

    • If ACC cannot take action if Samden doesn’t complain to them it seems that corruption is upto the private parties likes and dislikes. The same thing seems to have happend with the Chang Ugyen case where many steps seem to have conveniently lapsed and each is point to the other. 

      So basically the misprocurement can go ahead because of a lapse. Fine country this, for corruption. No country for honest men.

      • The point is BPCL have defended their decision not to annul the tender and if Samden doe’s not complain, the ACC cannot do anything. It is easy for us to pass Judgment from outside, however, it is clear that Samden does not feel the same way as you do. I am sure the situation is much complex than as you see it.

        As for ACC, if they are required to investigate every corruption case this newspaper writes about, rightly or wrongly, it would be impossible for them to function, that is exactly why a formal complaint with supporting documents need to be made for the ACC to investigate suspected cases of corruption.

      • well my point is that some things are not about individual complaints. There is a procurement rule and whether there is a complaint or not, if the rule has been broken then automatically the tender must be annulled.

        There are plenty of cases where all 5 bidders talk to each other before the bid and agree on how much to bid, who gets the contract and how much he must share with each bidder. So if they don’t complain the bid was okay? of course they won’t complain. Action must be taken unilaterally based on evidence.

        • BPCL is adamant that they did nothing wrong and based on that argument they have not annulled the tender, now the ball is in the court of Samden motors to do something about it, the fact that they have not done anything means that they themselves are not too sure as to whether they were disqualified for legitimate reasons or not. Like I mentioned earlier, things are much more complex than reported by this paper. If it were not so and Samden was sure that they have somehow been wronged, why not take the case up with the ACC, the fact that they have already gone public and spoken to the media about it and yet don’t want to take it up with the ACC defies logic.

          • the monk, i also sense same,if Samden motors does not take the issue to Acc or court he should be charged for collusion with Global Trader,because if he wins the case there is saving around 12 mn which is a huge amount.

  2. Do we have trade relation with China? Can you do business with China? Are we allow to bring in Chinese products? These are some of the questions that came to my mind when I read this article.

    If you see merchants shops in Thimphu it is flooded with Chinese products but I was told that it is all black business. Is M/s Global Traders is also doing black business with Chinese dealers?

    • i am sure your home is flooded with chinese goods.
      the black market goods you are talking about are brought into bhutan on horseback. do you think the buses are going to brought on horseback??? seriously, what planet are you living on?

  3. PM’s relatives must all join monkhood ina according to Lamsang.

  4. No PM’s relative should stop stealing n as someone rightly said be honest…Which would be a very good start..

  5. I think they are honest enough. The only problem here in bhutan is honesty has become subjective for people like lamsang and apkado. But all genuine bhutanese ppl know who is honest and who is not especially at leadership level

    • Dear thinker,
      Topic is about city bus scam.I am not procurement expert and it looks you r also not. I understood very clearly that reading news and forums that it has been favored to Global trader, why? because catalog/photo of bus has been asked after opening tender and document submitted by Global Trader is awarded. What is this? so they are honest?
      who r entitle to be genuine bhutanese? all corrupted ppls?

  6. Can’t believe that Bhutan Post is wasting 1.2 crore Nu for getting Chinese buses which are unreliable (remember the bus that smashed many vehicles along Hong Kong Market in 2010 – that was Chinese Coaster Bus). Bhutan Post is highly subsidized by the government, and they act like they have lot of money to waste… Providing justifications for paying more for buses. This money is coming from people’s taxes, and as a tax payer I would demand that Bhutan Post use our money responsibly or resign!!! Kick out the BP management as they can’t seem to control costs while their corporation has not made a single Nu. as profit since it was established.

  7. now our leaders are indirectly robbing the country

  8. BPCL says the brochures submitted by Samden were vague and did not match the specifications provided by BPCL. If its true, BPCL should prove that, and clear their name instead of doing nothing.

    If what samden says, that they provided the exact specifications but were rejected due to the lack of a photo asked after the tender opening, then clearly BPCL is in the wrong and action should be taken.

    • So the ball is in Samden’s court and if they feel they are right, what is stopping them taking the case to ACC. My gut feeling is that they don’t have a strong enough case.

  9. man there are so many scams you don’t know which forum to write in. the Chang Ugyen Scam has taken the spotlight from the Global Traders Scam, which in turn has taken the spotlight from the DPT scams.

    So little time, so many scams.

  10. Yangtsepa,

    I doubt their would be any sort of collusion between Samden and Global Traders, if indeed there was, this public bickering would have never happened, but then we will never know, would we.

    And for all the people who think the BPCL CEO is a DPT man, think again, he was the Project Manager of GOI (Government of India}, under LSN in the Ministry of Health and had to leave for misappropriating GOI funds for both himself and his boss, I just don’t want to get any more murkier. But this case has been well documented in the past, but one thing I know is that he is a pretty unscrupulous person.

  11. Monk, you write as though these people have such a thing as loyalty. Their ‘loyalties’, if you can call it that is just in passing. Loyalties will attach to whoever is in power so for sure the loyalty at this point would be 100% DPT. And that means helping out with the Global Traders briefcase business project. Why not? 

  12. Everyone is buying from China. Even US. Are you Tibetan or what to reject Chinese outrightly. 

    • Namjay, Have you ever hear of reality joke Chinese toofan in Hongkhng Market. I dont trust chinese product. Few year back a chinese coaster Bus got Brake failed and damaged few cars in Hongkong Market area in Thimphu. Did you ever entred inside that bus all the fittings and finishings are not execptional. May be BPCL wants to have another Havoc in Thimphu Area.

  13. the bhutanese,

    pls also let us know who Gangjung’s father or father in law is?

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