Local contractors apoplectic over P314.1m tender

Citizen-owned construction contractors are crying foul over direct appointment of a tender estimated at P304,100,000 to six other companies.

The Ministry of Basic Education (MoBE), through its Department of Technical Services has appointed the six companies to construct 190 classrooms and 94 science laboratories across the country.

Even though the companies are yet to get invitations to tender and submit their bids, the ministry has demarcated the cake and provided estimates.

Citizen-owned TKM Engineering is earmarked to get the lion’s share of the funds to build 38 classrooms and 17 labs in the Kweneng district estimated to cost P61.1 million. Chinese company, Zhong Gan Construction and Engineering will be invited to tender for construction of 38 classrooms and 17 labs in Kgalagadi, Gantsi and Southern districts at an estimated P61 million.

Ragno Construction will be offered an estimated P55.2 million to construct 33 classes and 16 labs in the Central District. The company is a partnership between a Chinese and a Motswana.

Citizen-owned JumCorp could be awarded about P52.2 million to build 15 classrooms and 20 labs in South East and Kgatleng districts.

Chinese company, Red East Construction will be invited to tender for P50.9 million to build 23 classrooms and 17 labs in Central, Chobe and North East districts.

Citizen-owned Ramodisa Projects will be invited to tender to construct 13 classrooms and seven labs for an estimated P23.5 million in the Central District.         

Contractors who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation told Mmegi that they suspect foul play in the awarding of the said tender. “It is very surprising to see only six companies awarded such a big tender to build so many classrooms. Companies should have been allowed to tender and more companies could have benefited,” one contractor bemoaned.

Another contractor said the tender was a chance to ensure that Batswana benefit in large numbers.

“It is so disappointing to see these big Chinese companies being given tenders for construction of classrooms when there are so many capable citizen-owned companies,” another contractor  complained.

“We need to be empowered to keep improving our services. It is also wrong to award tenders in this manner. They will spend a lot more than the estimates as the companies will charge as they wish, knowing they were directly appointed.”

Responding to questions on why they approved the awarding without tendering, PPADB public relations and education manager, Charles Keikotlhae said, “The ministry justified the use of the method under Regulation 61. The procurement was an emergency due to the cancellation of the tender for the construction of classrooms and science laboratories using alternative construction materials at the schools in question and the need to address acute shortage of classrooms and science laboratories at these secondary schools”.

He said the ministry approached the Board requesting the direct procurement, which is worth over P25 million. Therefore, the Board had to sanction the use of the method.

Keikotlhae said the ministry was still to undertake the projects and award the tenders to selected bidders. He said the amount charged by bidders was not yet known since tendering was still ongoing.

“The tendering is still to be undertaken. Selected bidders are still to respond to the Invitation To Tender. The Ministerial Tender Committee will then consider recommendation to award the tenders to the responsive bidders.”

He said reasons advanced by the ministry were that the selected contractors were high grade companies. This, he said was due to some of the following reasons:

They have previously completed projects to the satisfaction of MoBE; They have in the past demonstrated their willingness to engage other contractors and are expected to do the same in the current projects; They are experienced and therefore reliable; Since they are well resourced, they are readily available to start work as and when required to do so; They have better resource management to manage large projects; They are committed and accountable; They provide quality work; They provide post construction support; They have good financial management skills; They require minimum supervision thus allowing MoBE to run concurrent projects; They have capacity to manage and supervise both their design and construction teams.

Contacted for a comment, MoBE public relations officer, Lebogang Nyadza said the response from PPADB is in order.

“Please note that the Ministry is re-looking into the scope of the projects with a view to reprioritising the them on account of budgetary constraints,” she added.

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