The Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) yesterday appointed Saif Powertec Limited and two other firms as operators for handling containers in two jetties of its New Mooring Container Terminal.
It came just 16 days after Saif Powertec, a joint venture, submitted the tender. Awarding of a tender in such a short time is unprecedented.
The two other companies in the joint venture are A&J Traders and M/s MH Chowdhury Limited. They have been hired to do the job for two years. Newly elected city Mayor AJM Nasir Uddin is chairman of M/s MH Chowdhury Limited, a berth operator of the port. A&J Traders is owned by ruling Awami League lawmaker Ekramul Karim Chowdhury.
Saif Powertec submitted its bid on June 9. The port authorities were quick to prepare evaluation report and get approval from the CPA Board by June 22. It then sent the report to the shipping ministry for its nod before wrapping up the deal yesterday.
Tarafder Md Ruhul Amin, managing director of Saif Powertec Limited, confirmed the deal signing.
The CPA floated the tender on May 4.
According to the tender evaluation report, the rate given by Saif Powertec was Tk 49.64 crore, 19.43 percent more than the CPA's approved rate of Tk 41.56 crore.
In the past, the CPA cancelled a tender and went for retender for another job after the contractor's rate was found 9 percent higher than the CPA's estimate, sources said.
In 2009, the Cabinet Committee on Purchase rejected a tender bid for handling the Inland Container Depot in Kamalapur in the capital for similar reasons.
Container and Terminal Services Limited, which too had submitted tender for the terminal handling job, filed a writ petition with the High Court on May 31, alleging that some conditions for the tender were in violation of the Public Procurement Act (PPA), 2006 and Public Procurement Rule (PPR), 2008.
Two of the tender conditions were (a) the firm must have experience of terminal operation and (b) it must be a Bangladeshi firm.
Under the PPR, no condition may be set so that it impedes a fair competition.
After hearing the petition, the HC on the same day stayed the tender process for three months. But the chamber judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court stayed the HC order and fixed June 14 for hearing the petition at a regular SC bench. A full bench of the SC then directed the HC bench to dispose of the petition.
Evaluation of another tender invited by the CPA for appointing operator for two other jetties of the same terminal is moving at a snail's pace. Five firms, including Saif Powertec Limited, submitted bids for the job on June 10.
Sources said this delay was “intentional” and was meant to avoid taking approval from the purchase committee.
Under the rules, approval from the purchase committee is required if two sets of tenders are processed at the same time, and for a job at the same terminal.
According to the sources, the entire job was also split into two for the benefit of a certain quarter.
Under the PPR, the procuring entity shall not generally split a project or programme components into successive packages of lower value when preparing its procurement plan with the intention of avoiding either a particular procurement method or the obligations of seeking the approval of a higher authority.
And in the cases where a single object of procurement is split into more than one package, tenders for each of the packages must be placed for approval before the competent authority.
But these rules were violated in this case, added the sources.
Contacted, CPA Chairman Rear Admiral Nizam Uddin Ahmed said the whole tender process was done in line with the PPR.
He said these two tenders were invited for appointing operators for an interim period.
“As the number of containers is increasing in the port we had to go for a short-term tender on instructions of the ministry,” he added.