Defence cancels Shs130b UPDF hospital contract

KAMPALA. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) has backed the Defence ministry to cancel a Shs130b tender for construction of the proposed 250-bed UPDF hospital.
The PPDA executive director, Ms Cornelia Sabiiti in an April 21 letter to the Defence ministry Permanent Secretary Rosette Byengoma, advised that before the entity cancels the entire procurement they should ensure that “other responsive bidders reached the financial stage, and their bids are still valid and within the market price.”
Ms Sabiiti’s letter, however, provoked queries within the Defence ministry, with officials accusing her of influence peddling in processing a tender that has already attracted alot of controversy.

The deal was marred by allegations of bribery and backhand methods which left the the Defence ministry senior staff divided, officials said in a letter to the IGG.
The contract had been awarded to the Seyani Brothers and Prabat Constructions in a joint venture, but was cancelled, after it emerged that the project price had been scaled up from Shs113b to more than Shs130b without consistent explanation.
Ms Byengoma in an April 18 letter to PPDA said the ministry cancelled the tender to the preferred bidder, Ms Seyani/Prabat, “due to the wrongful treatment of arithmetic errors by the evaluation committee”, which led to escalation in the project cost.
Ms Sabiiti yesterday defended her April 21 letter, insisting it did not amount to “influence peddling” because it was just advisory.

“The decision to cancel the procurement lies with the procuring entity: ours was just an advisory on how it should be handled best,” she said.
The PPDA letter, according to insiders, was interpreted as a move to favour another bidder “on a pretext of playing an advisory role to the effect that the Defence ministry should confirm whether the price of other bidders are within the market price or whether the bids are still valid.”
But Ms Sabiiti yesterday said the Defence ministry had also been given the green light to undertake “restrictive bidding” so that a new contractor gets on board before the end of the budgetary cycle in June.

“They [Defence] confirmed to us the bids for the other responsive bidders were very high, so they can proceed,” she said.
Asked about the logic of restrictive bidding, she said, “It is because so much time has been lost, and if the entity fail to utilise the money they will have to return it.”
IGG Irene Mulyagonja forwarded the complaint to the PPDA to look into the inquiry after she had been requested to investigate it.


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