Transporter cries foul over unfair bidding process

State Mining Corporation Limited alleged for awarding work to a company that  didn’t participate  in the bidding process

The State Mining Corporation Limited (SMCL) is alleged of unfair treatment in awarding a contract to transport coal from Samdrupcholing in Samdrupjongkhar to Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited in Nganglam, Pemagatshel.

The owner of Lungwang Norphel Goods Transport based in Nganglam, Jigme, said the SMCL cancelled the tender, which was floated in March and instead awarded the work to another transporter who did not even participate in the bidding.

Jigme was among the five bidders who participated in the bidding. He quoted Nu 1,157 to transport a metric ton (MT) of coal. However, the company’s old tender rate was Nu 1,019 a MT in 2016 and the work was awarded to another transport company, which did not participate in the bidding process but was willing to transport at the old rate.

He also said that he had transported 6,000MT of coal at Nu 1,019 a MT in 2016 for SMCL after one of their transport companies failed to deliver and the SMCL floated an expression of interest. The SMCL and Jigme’s transport company had then verbally agreed that the SMCL would either negotiate and increase the price or float a new tender after six months.

He said the SMCL decided to float the tender after they could not agree on the price. “The bidding process completed on March 22 and before we knew it, the work was already awarded to another transporter on March 25,” he said.

None of the five bidders received information on the work awarded or that the tender had been cancelled.

“We feel cheated. This indicates a serious lapse in the company where they decided internally to award the work to another transport company,” Jigme said. “I would have understood if the work was awarded to one of the participating bidders.”

Jigme said their complaints to the SMCL both in writing and verbally for clarification went unanswered.

“It was much later after complaining several times that the company handed me a cancellation letter asking me to take my security deposit of Nu 50,000. But there was no mention of any reason for cancelling the tender,” he said.

Based on the 4,450 MT of coal that is required to be transported a month, the work, which the five transport companies bid for is worth about Nu 5.3 million a year.

The SMCL is also alleged for cancelling another tender package where four bidders had participated to transport coal from Samdrupcholing to Penden cement in Gomtu.

However, an official from SMCL in a telephone interview said the tender committee cancelled the tender primarily based on the rate because there was other transporter who agreed to transport the coal at the existing rate of Nu 1,019 a MT to Dungsam Cement Corporation Limited.  Since the chief executive officer of SMCL is out of station, the official was instructed to speak to Kuensel.

The official said that based on the existing rate, it cost Nu 4.74 to transport a ton a kilometer, which was less than the lowest quoted rate.

“The lowest bid was Nu 1,135 a MT and not Nu 1,157 and based on this, the rate was Nu 5.28 a km a ton,” the official said. “That is why, in the best interest of the company and based on the low market rate available, the committee took such a decision.”

The official added that they had also cancelled the tender for Gomtu on similar grounds since the lowest bidding was Nu 1,816 a MT, much higher than the old rate of Nu 1,497 per MT.

Yangchen C Rinzin

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