What you need to know:
Despite the board raising queries over the construction firm, the Fund has included the Chinese company among those eligible for Pension Tower contract.
The National Social Security Fund has again shortlisted China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) as one of two eligible companies to complete the Pension Tower, months after the board raised questions about the firm to the public procurement Authority (PPDA).
NSSF first contracted CCECC to build the Shs222 billion phase-two works on July 16, 2012. Its board, however, complained that the selection process was unfair, allegations the PPDA established in its September 13 audit investigation report. “There was unfairness/unequal treatment of bidders in the evaluation at the pre-qualification stage, contrary to Section 45 of the PPDA Act 2003, the authority noted in its findings. The cited law provides that all public procurement and disposal shall be conducted in a manner which promotes transparency, accountability and fairness.
The PPDA noted: “A bidder (CCECC) that submitted experience of subsidiary companies was pre-qualified and yet other bidders that submitted experience of subsidiary companies were eliminated.”
Companies eliminated then on similar grounds included SBI International Holdings, 23rd Metallurgical Construction Company of Non-Ferrous Metal Industry (U) Limited, China Overseas Engineering Group and the Arab Contractors Osman Ahmed Osman & Co.
Following discovery of anomalies regarding the initial procurement, the authority called for “fresh due diligence” with “strict adherence” to PPDA regulations.
Our investigations show that in an October 5 letter, the Fund’s Managing Director, Mr Richard Byarugaba, announced that only CCECC and China National Aero-Technology International Engineering Corporation (CATIC) were pre-qualified in the repeat exercise involving 17 bidders. “This shortlist is subject to a further due diligence exercise to verify compliance with the information submitted under eligibility, financial performance and experience,” he noted.
Mr Byarugaba said the other firms were knocked out for, among other reasons, lack of required construction experience, incomplete bid information, and their financial turnover being less than the required Shs25 billion threshold beside lack of a valid NSSF clearance certificate.
Affected companies include Sinohydro Corporation, Seyani Brothers & Co, China First Highway Engineering, Roko Construction, 23rd Metallurgical Constrcution of Non Ferrous Metal Industries, SBI International Holdings, Aveng Africa, China Jiangxi Corporation, China Overseas Engineering Group, EPCO Builders and Energo Project Building and General Contracting firm.
Others are China Railway 17th Bureau Group, China National Complete Plant Import & Export Corporation, Arab Contractors Uganda and Cementers Uganda Ltd-Cementers Ltd (Joint Venture).
Asked why NSSF opted to pre-qualify a company its own board had expressed reservations over, the Fund said it had done everything according to the law. “PPDA requested the Fund to do a re-valuation of all 17 bids that were submitted for prequalification, which included CCECC. The re-evaluation addressed the issues were raised by the PPDA audit,” Mr Byarugaba said in a statement emailed to this newspaper on Thursday evening. He added: ‘The Fund is implementing recommendations contained in the audit report issued by PPDA.”
Building of the structure, planned to accommodate NSSF headquarters; Kampala and Mpigi offices and provide commercial space for rent began in April 2008. The engineering works, however, stalled after scores of construction workers died at the site when a wall collapsed on them on October 14 of that year.