After the cabinet’s termination of contract work on sections of the Dalbari-Dagapela road

 MoWHS: Engineers from the ministry of works and human settlement will complete the assessment of the terminated works of the Dalbari-Dagapela road and submit a report this week.

The cabinet terminated contract works on two of the three packages, sections B and C, of the secondary national highway last December, and assessment of work done began in January.

Department of roads (DoR) officials said by the time the cabinet took the decision, construction work had begun and the progress was ‘ahead of schedule’.

Tundi Construction private company from Nepal had reached 5km of the 20km package B worth Nu 378M (million) between Odalthang and Gesarling.

An Indian company, SPML, and Gaseb Construction company joint venture had already finished a 9km rough widening of the existing 21.22km.  It was awarded a 31.58km long section C worth more than Nu 358M of the road, including the 21.22km road from Dagapela to Geserling.

“The cutting isn’t complete, compared with the road design, thus, assessing has been difficult,” a DoR official said.  Two groups of engineers assessed the construction progress.

DoR officials said the teams’ report was only on the construction work, and the ministry would have to work out the compensation on establishments, expenditure and other contractual terms.

Following an Anti-Corruption Commission review report of the procurement process of the works, the cabinet decided to terminate the works and retender them.  The commission reviewed the tendering process, after a representative from one of the lowest bidders, a joint venture between Jai Prakash Associates from India and Rinson Construction company, complained against the ministerial level tender committee for unfairly rejecting his bid.

Meanwhile, the representative or managing director of Rinson Construction company, Shacha Rinchen Dorji, said the government could avoid huge delay and additional costs with some adjustments and negotiation.

The section B was awarded to a Nepalese company, Tundi.  ACC reported that the company was given the work without fulfilling the requirements.  It submitted a bank guarantee from a bank in Nepal, while procurement rules say that the bank guarantee should be from a financial institution that has a correspondent unit in the country of the employer (DoR), in this case, Bhutan.

Shacha Rinchen Dorji said the government could save in compensation to Gaseb Construction company and SPML if it was given section B.

As his company was the lowest bidder and the finance ministry (MoF), through letters from the minister and secretary, urged to consider his credit line or bank guarantee, which covered two of the reasons for rejecting his bid, he said section C could be given to his company and the lead partner.

“Our bank guarantee was in line with the existing financial guidelines,” he said.

“The findings of ACC said that our joint venture should have been given an opportunity to clarify the reasons for rejection and, if given that chance, we’d have got the work.”

The joint venture was not asked to clarify, despite their bids being responsive.  MoWHS minister, in an earlier interview, said there had been some lapses in the tendering process, mainly due to differences in interpretation.  The issue remained unresolved despite two meetings between ACC, and the MoF and MoWHS teams, led by their secretaries.

DoR officials said the compensation and losses could go up to a billion Ngultrums.

By Tshering Palden