New tender row hits IEBC over supply of voter roll equipment

By Geoffrey Mosoku

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) faces a new hurdle in its preparations for the coming elections.

Three companies that lost a tender to supply Sh1.4 billion equipment that is meant to store voters register seek nullification of the tender awarded to a South African firm.

IEBC is staring a crisis if the tender to supply the voters’ register equipment is annulled.

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Prior to use of BVR kits for registration of voters, the electoral body used a “black book” to compile the manual register.

SmartMatic Intentional, Bidvest Paperplus and Avante Intentional have petitioned Public Procurement Oversight Authority to stop the tender over claims that IEBC did not follow the Public Procurement and Disposal Act in awarding the tender to Face Technologies of South Africa.

The board is set to hear the matter tomorrow.

Retendering

Face Technologies was awarded the tender as it emerged the lowest evaluated bidder at US$ 16.6 million (Sh1.4 billion).

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The three want the Public Procurement Administrative Review (PPAR) to order IEBC to retender the exercise, claiming that the electoral body erred in rejecting their bid.

The voter register or electronic voter identification devices is popularly known as Poll Book and will replace the infamous Black Book that was used to keep the voters register under the old manual system.

Should PPAR rule against IEBC, the polls body will be dealt a big blow, as this is likely to affect preparations for the elections.

IEBC through its CEO James Oswago has requested the board to reject the application by the three, saying no breach of Public Procurement and Disposal Act have been established.

“The procurement proceedings, if annulled, will have a negative impact on the biometric voter devices, which are integral link to the entire BVR registration and identification system,” Oswago’s letter dated November 28 states.

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IEBC is currently registering an estimated 18 million voter using BVR solution which captures essential data about an individual.

An extract of voter register from the BVR system containing full names, gender, dates of birth, ten finger prints and facial image will be extracted from the BVR and loaded to the Poll Book to be used on voting day.

Tender package

According to IEBC, the electronic voter identification devices aim at providing information to verify the voter’s identity and prevent voter impersonation.

IEBC advertised the tender for supply, delivery, installation, configuration, training, testing and commissioning the EVID on June 1 with the tender closing on July 5.

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A total of 15 bidders submitted their documents with five out of the 17 qualifying for technical evaluation. These include Computer Foundation, Face Technologies, Techno Brain Ltd, Safran Morpho and Avante International Technology Inc.

Boardroom wars

Computer foundation and Techno brain failed the technical requirements leaving only three: Face Tech, Safran Moprpho and Avante Tech to advance to the next stage according to Oswago.

This comes months after the BVR exercise almost collapsed as boardroom wars affected the award of the Sh4 billion tender to supply the kits forcing the Government to intervene and take over the exercise with the cost rising to about Sh10 billion in the government-to-government  procurement between Kenya and Canada.

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IEBC Voter registration