Reports reaching the Daily Observer have it that the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy (MLME) has “secretly awarded” a US$1.7 million project management consultancy contract to an Indian firm known as Wapcos Limited.
The money, according to the source, is part of the US$144.54 million loan from the Export and Import Bank (EXIM Bank) of India for financing their power transmission and distribution project in Liberia.
The Project, among other things, is expected to cover the construction of a 225Kv double circuit transmission line from Kahnplay through Saniqulle, Ganta, Gbarnga, Totota, terminating at Kakata.
It is also to cover a 223/66/33Kv sub-station at Ganta to Kakata, and a 66/33Kv transmission and distribution within Kakata, Bong, Salala, Careysburg and other areas.
Eligible payments under the contract for the appointment of a Project Management Consultant, are expected to be covered under the project.
But, under the PMC, the source said, the firm would assist the Ministry on all project management and technical issues such as preparing a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the power Transmission and Distribution Project.
It would prepare bidding documents to select EPC Company to construct the transmission lines and sub stations.
The company would check the credentials and experience of the Indian firms who choose to bid in the tender for construction of transmission lines and sub stations. It would also conduct a special check on the quality of civil construction on a continuous basis.
The source hinted, however, that the project could cost between US$400,000 to US$500,000 instead of the US$1.7 million.
“Why would the Ministry could give such a huge amount of money just for that 12-to-15-day work?” the source wondered, “Liberia is going to pay back the loan and it is the taxpayers who are going to suffer.”
“I just want you to know that they are exploiting you people. This is why I’m disclosing their plan to you,” the source stated.
Quoting the agreement on the loan, the source said, only Indian consulting firms were qualified to submit their “Expression of Interest” (EOI) for the PMC, as was agreed by the Indian and Liberia Governments.
According to the source, under the Public Procurement and Concession Commission (PPCC) law, local Expression of Interest(EOI) request is to last for 30 days, while International EOI is to last for 45 days. The source cited pages 48, 49, 51, 52 and 53 of the PPCC Act for request of EOI.
However, in this case, it is reported that the Ministry only gave a 15-day ultimatum after it had published the bid from October 31, 2013 to November 15, 2013 in Indian newspapers.
As a result, the source claimed, several companies’ EOIs were denied for not meeting the 15-day deadline set by the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy.
“How do you think this will happen? Because Liberia does not have an embassy in India. And giving a firm 15-day ultimatum to submit a bid in Liberia was unbelievable,” the source concluded.
Addressing the issue, Deputy Lands, Mines and Energy Minister Stephen Dorbor said even though he has not been fully involved in the discussions with Exim Bank, a delegation from Exim Bank met with him Tuesday, February 18, at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy. During their meeting, he said the Indian delegation told him that the conditions attached to the EOI published in India were too harsh and that there was a need for it to be republished so that bidders can begin afresh.
“It was understood from that meeting that the EOI would be redone,” he disclosed.