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.