The RAA Draft report has also found the same problems afflicting the Bathpalathang domestic airport that has affected the other domestic airports of Gelephu and Younphula constructed by the Ministry of Information and Communication.
The report has uncovered sub-standard works, overpayments, violation of tendering norms, selection of ineligible contractor, avoidable costs and excessive time delays.
Of the Nu 131.76 mn sanctioned for the airport an expenditure of Nu 130.57 was covered by the report from January 2010 to 30 June 2012.
Nu 3 mn in Illegal overpayments
Nu 20.73 mn was paid to the contractors for paving the runway of the airport. The required thickness was 120 mm but RAA in its test results found that the actual thickness was only 104.67 mm. Therefore the report concludes that the difference resulted in an overpayment of Nu 2.64 mn.
The RAA also found that the density of the completed pavement was only 1.95 g/cc as opposed to the required density of 2.12b/cc.
The report says, “It is apparent from the test results that the runway pavement had neither achieved the required design density nor the thickness. Thus, it indicated not only execution of substandard works by the contractor but also taking over of works not as per technical specification by the Site Engineer of the Department. The taking over of the substandard work from the contractor indicated apathy on the part of the Site Engineer or possible collusion impeding the effectiveness of the project.”
The report has asked the Department of Civil aviation to either get the works redone or recover the amount.
It also says, “Department should also take appropriation decision on the non achievement of design density and the extent of cost involved recover and deposited into ARA.”
The report says that the Department should review and see how such substandard works were done and has also asked for action to be taken against the officials.
In another instance the department found that Nu 426,347 had been overpaid in the execution of the gabion wall. This was because though physically the gabion wall measured only 548.60 meters the contractor had claimed for and was paid for a height of 573 meters.
Nu 31 mn worth of substandard gabion walls
As per the report Nu 31.66 mn was spent on the river protection works by building gabion walls on the border of the airport and the river.
However, on joint physical verification of the construction site of Bathpalathang Domestic Airport, it was found that the river protection works were not executed properly as defects were observed on the joints of Gabion Boxes. Further, the diameter of GI wire mesh was also not as per the technical specifications. The physical measurement of wire mesh indicated diameter of only 3.97mm and 3.81mm against the technical specification GI wire mesh diameter of 4mm.
The report says, “It was apparent that the total expenditure of Nu.31,661,475.98 incurred on the river protection works had resulted into wasteful expenditure in terms of failure to meet the required technical specification.”
The report has asked for the contractor to reconstruct all the structures and fix responsibility on the engineers for taking over substandard works.
Nu 33.3 mn in additional costs to repair sub-standard runway
The RAA report said that the airport runway was rendered non operational soon after the launching of air services apparently due to defective run-way pavement entailing need for resurfacing works involving substantial addition of Nu 33.3 mn. The report says that the deficient planning and flaws in the design, drawing and execution of substandard works had exacerbated the quality of the runway pavements which necessitated resurfacing of the pavement within a short span of operation.
The RAA has asked for a review of the technical specifications of the runway pavement considering the resurfacing requirement with substantial additional cost of Nu 33.3 mn.
Flawed Tendering process
The RAA report has pointed out that with the stated aim of saving time the MoIC ministerial tendering committee has awarded a tender of Nu 42.46 mn to a non eligible construction company called Tshering Construction.
The report noted that the construction company and its partner MP Sitani and Sons failed to meet the requirement of Nu 50 mn average of works done in last five years as they combined only had Nu 20 mn in average works. There was non-availability of supporting documents for critical equipment and the Surveyor and the Nu 10 mn credit facility was not satisfied.
It says that the decision of the Committee to negotiate and award the contract to a non-responsive bidder who failed to comply with many important requirements violated the provisions of the PRR 2009, Standard Bidding Documents on Procurement of Works and Tender Terms and Conditions.
The report says that the Committee, Minister and the government were more influenced by time constraints to award the work rather than objective evaluation of the capability of the contractor carry out such work. “As a consequence the quality and progress of work were seriously impeded,” says the report.
Unjustified time extension of 348 days
Though much was made of timely completion the RAA report has pointed out that Tshering Phuntsho and Sitani and Sons who were supposed to complete a Nu 48.85 mn project in six months got an extension of more than 11 months beyond the completion date.
The MoIC tender committee had justified it citing additional work of Nu 15 mn and work stoppage for 72 days.
However the RAA report said that the entire Nu 48 mn work was given only 196 days but it did not make sense to give 250 days just for Nu 15 mn worth of additional works. The RAA also found that computation of the time required had been inflated to benefit the contractor.
It also says that MoIC tender committee’s decision to stop work for 72 days was in total violation of procurement rules.
The report says that MoIC’s reason for time pressures in awarding works to non eligible bidders was unfounded given the huge time extensions.
The report also said that had MoIC given a proper time frame beyond the six months then the works cold have been implemented in a better manner by the Department of Roads.
The report has asked MoIC and the Department to review the unwarranted computation of time.
It says, “The Department of Civil Aviation should workout justified time extension and levy liquidated damages as required under the rules in force and deposit the same with the RAA.”
Poor planning and Design
The report says that the construction of the Bathpalathang Airport at Bumthang was carried out without proper feasibility study, topography survey, geotechnical study and adequate planning with consequential adverse impact on the quality and cost of works.
The report says that the Department of Civil had omitted important items of work from the tender even after it was pointed out by the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and instead directly gave the tender to Tshering Construction.
Later additional works of Nu 15 mn were given without any tender just after the work order was issued.
The master plan of the airport among other things included an apron and taxiway which were not built.
An Apron is to accommodate aircraft for purpose of loading or unloading passengers, mail or cargo, fuelling, parking or maintenance. Taxi way is a path on land aerodrome established for the taxing of aircraft intended to provide link between one part of the aerodrome and another.
The excuse given to RAA was that this was due to lack of fund. However the RAA pointed out such shortages had occurred due to improper planning. It says, “For instance DCA had not conducted professional surveys for earthwork excavation while drawing up the estimates which had a huge financial impact.”