The delay in Nimba scrap deal is said to be worrying Nimba County Senator Thomas S. Grupee who says “it will jeopardize the development in the county and deny many Nimbaians of job opportunities.”
Speaking in an interview with a group of reporters in Ganta on November 6, Senator Grupee said the scrap deal, including the bidding process, appears to be taking a negative trend.
In 2013, scrap deposits in Yekepa were turned over to Nimba County by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, leading to the County Legislative Caucus immediately instructing the Superintendent to put out bids to carry on scrap mining.
When the bid was advertised, two companies, North Star and Western Steel, applied. Through the vetting process, headed by Teeko Tozay Yorlay, former Development Superintendent of Nimba, Western Steel won because the company offered US$81 per ton while the North Star offered US$77.
However, North Star was not satisfied with the vetting process and filed a complaint to the Public Procurement Concession Commission against the authorities of Nimba County.
The letter dated February 28, 2014 alleged irregular scoring by the bid’s evaluation panel, reportedly signed by its chairman.
North Star’s complaint was forwarded to the Complaints, Appeals and Review Panel (CARP) whose ruling, dated July 4, 2014, mandated the Nimba Procurement Committee to appoint a Bid Evaluation Panel to reevaluate the bid.
Consistent with CARP’s ruling, the Bid Evaluation Panel was appointed and, following an evaluation, declared North Star the “most responsive.”
Western Steel then requested the Supreme Court of Liberia to issue a Writ of Prohibition based on the fact that they were cited by CARP, or given their day in court. The writ was issued on August 20, 2014.
The case was then sent back to CARP for hearing and recent findings from CARP said the Bid Evaluation Panel of Nimba County was in violation of the PPCC Act of 2010 when she awarded irregular scores of the bidders, irrespective of meeting the criteria, which led to the refusal of the chairman of the Bid Evaluation Panel to sign the report.
In the document, a copy of which is with the Daily Observer, it did not specify or state the PPCC Act of 2010, which Senator Grupee considered as ambiguous and “it is intended to deny Nimba County the opportunity to benefit from the scrap.”
“In any bid, people expect to take the bidder who will offer good price, and in the case of the scraps deal, Western Steel is willing to provide US$ 81 per ton and build a mini steel factory that will employ about 400 Nimbaians, while North Star is providing US$77,” he said.