By CGN Reporter
Top managers at the Luanda National Government Constituency Development Fund (NG-CDF) are in panic after a contractor wrote to four investigating agencies to probe them over alleged misuse of funds.
The contractor, Vihiga Merchants Association (VMA), want the sleuths to probe top fund managers and the procurement committee for allegedly colluding with a contractor whose three companies were awarded tenders to build classes in three schools within the constituency.
According to the contractor, at least Sh30 million will be lost if the project will go on. Construction has already started.
The agencies are the Ethics Anti-Corruption (EACC), Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), the Public Procurement Regulatory Board (PPRB) and the National Constituency Development Funds office. The contractor also wrote to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).
Beatrice Kungu, the deputy director, corporate communications department at EACC, confirmed to be in receipt of the complaints over the award of the three tenders.
“The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission confirms it received a complaint from the Vihiga Merchants Association two weeks ago, specifically on March 13,” said Ms Kungu.
“The Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003 establishes offences of corruption and economic crimes and provides for their investigation and penalties. Accordingly, in line with this commission’s investigative mandate, the case at hand (Luanda NG-CDF staff) will be investigated to its conclusion,” she added.
Moses Mabwa, the Secretary General for the Vihiga Merchants Association, in a letter to the agencies dated march 4 want the tenders awarded cancelled and fresh tendering be done.
The tenders in questions are the construction of an administration offices and 16 classes at Mumboha Secondary School at a cost of Sh54.83 million and the construction of administrative offices, library and eight classrooms at Esibeye primary school at a cost Sh24.89 million.
The other one is construction of eight classrooms at Khwiliba Primary School at a cost of Sh19.56million. “We applied for the advertised tenders but we have serious doubts about the process leading to award of the projects and we believe that the process was unlawful. The tenders are normally not advertised,” read part of Mr Mabwa’s letter.
Mabwa said the tenders were awarded to the highest evaluated bidders despite them (contractors) being the lowest bidders after evaluation and alleged the three companies that won the tenders belong to one person.
“Our companies were the lowest bidder but the companies that were given the tenders (highest bidder) always had a variance of Sh100,000 with the estimates of the NG-CDF engineer. A total of Sh30 million will be lost to individual pockets since the projects have been over-estimated,” said Mabwa.
The contractors also want an independent quantity surveyor to quantify the costs for all the three projects before the contractors awarded the tenders can continue with their work and that the procurement officer in charge overseeing the tendering process doesn’t have a have a practicing license and should be prosecuted.
Mabwa said they were denied regret letters and after protesting, they received them after 10 days with only a 4-day window period remaining to lodge complaints, saying it was a tactic to deny them a chance to seek redress.
Mabwa said the regret letters they (contractors) were similar to each other and the NG-CDF manager told them that they were not awarded the tender since they had no bid bonds and security. He said he contradicted himself in the letters by stating that they had returned our bonds.
He said the letter had no official letter head of the CDF save for the fund’s manager signature and a rubber stamp and that the letters had been backdated.
“The accounting officer considered your tender submission on 16th January 2019 at 10.00amand did not find your bid suitable to qualify since bid bond and bank statements had not been attached to qualify for the award of the contract,” read prat of the letter from Mr Gregory Otaalo, the NG-CDF funds manager, dated January 21st, this year
In a clear contradiction, the second paragraph read, “Meanwhile, your bond amounting to Sh300,000 is hereby returned to you for your necessary action.”
Mabwa said their bid bonds are only stated in the letter but they have been retained by the NG_CDF manager.
But in a rejoinder, Mr Otaalo, defended himself saying they awarded the highest bidders since they had the financial muscles to do the projects, saying lowest bidders didn’t qualify since they had invalid compliance certificate from the Kenya revenue Authority (KRA) and the National Contractors Association (NCA).
Otaalo admitted that it was an anomaly for the letters not to have a letter head since they were done in a hurry.
“I also realised the anomaly on the issue of bid bonds later when we had already given the regret letters to the contractors. We also didn’t notify them on the successful bidder in the letters but that was a mistake from our side,” said Otaalo.
He said they normally don’t advertise the tenders since they have inadequate resources.