Tribunal cancels Uganda Airlines’ fuel supply contract

In 2021 a Uganda Airlines aircraft was delayed in Tanzania over delayed dispatch of jet fuel by Dubai-based MixJet. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • Mixjet Flight Support FZE – one of the bidders – which, after it was disqualified from the process, filed complaints to both Uganda Airlines and the (PPDA) Tribunal.  

The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) Tribunal has cancelled a process in which Uganda Airlines had awarded contracts for supply of aviation fuel and in-flight support services. 

The process was cancelled over unfair treatment of Mixjet Flight Support FZE – one of the bidders – which, after it was disqualified, filed complaints to both Uganda Airlines and the (PPDA) Tribunal.  

In the complaint filed before the PPDA Tribunal, which led to the cancellation of the process, Mixjet had argued that the process had been conducted unjustly, displaying bias towards the highest-scoring bidders and discrimination against others. 

In November 2022, Uganda Airlines invited bids for supply of jet fuel at Entebbe International Airport. 

At least 10 bids, documents before the Tribunal indicate, were submitted, which returned Vivo Energy and Associated Energy Group as the winning bidders for supply of aviation fuel and in-flight services at contract values of $12.3m and $17.3m, respectively. 

However, in January, acting through Muhumuza, Kateeba & Co Advocates, MixJet, which had initially been disqualified from the process, challenged the decision, citing a number of reasons against the award of contracts, among which included lack of evidence of payment of business taxes in the country of origin, non-submission of third party aviation liability insurance, non-submission of a registered power of attorney and lack of a statement of the bidder’s health.  Mixjet also challenged the decision to disqualify its bid, noting that the grounds on which Uganda Airlines had relied were untrue and its appeal had been rejected because it was not dated, had not paid prescribed fees, had no addressee and name of the person representing it. 

Mixjet, documents before the Tribunal indicate, had appealed to Uganda Airlines against the decision to award the contract on two occasions but were each rejected. 

However, in its findings, the Tribunal found that Uganda Airlines had wrongly included eligibility criteria that were not part of the standard requirements and had modified the standard bidding document issued by Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority.

Additionally, the Tribunal found that there was unequal treatment of bidders, even for those who were supposedly the best-evaluated, and that the awards made were not justified. 

The Tribunal also acknowledged that MixJet's complaint was valid and should not have been dismissed by Uganda Airlines. 

“The decision of [Uganda Airlines] dated February 9, 2023, is a nullity and is set aside,” the ruling of the Tribunal reads in part. 

Therefore, in a ruling delivered by a panel of six members led by the chairman Francis Gimara, the Tribunal ruled that the procurement for supply of aviation fuel and inflight support services “is cancelled,” ordering that Uganda Airlines “may re-tender the procurement if it so wishes.”

Ms Shakila Rahim Lamar, the Uganda Airlines head of corporate affairs and public relations, told Monitor Sunday that the operations division of the airline would soon re-tender the contract, given that the exiting one had already expired. 

"The contract had just expired, so we had to re-tender. The operations division will soon announce inviting new bidders," she said.