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Tender battle rages over new number plates

By Kamau Muthoni | November 8th 2015
Inmates make vehicle number plates at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison. (Photo: File/Standard)

The Prison’s Enterprise department is in a spot over the new hi-tech car number plates with the bidders alleging impropriety and frustrations for the last two years.

The Standard on Sunday has learnt that the enterprise has not paid for the first machine installed at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison by Tropical Technologies Ltd to facilitate making of the modern-look number plates.

The machine has also not been formally commissioned two years down the line and training of how to use it has also not taken place.

It has emerged that the Director for Prisons Enterprises Josphat Kaminza  has allegedly kept silent despite several letters sent to him asking when the exercise would commence.

Tender documents

Training by Tropical Technologies Ltd, targeted 30 employees in a batch of 15.

Though the tender documents had not provided that the Kenyan firm would provide training, they brokered to have at least 10 people trained but the department increased the number to 30.

But there are shocking revelations in a letter seen by The Standard on Sunday, to the Ministerial Tender Committee on January 16 this year requesting it to open another restricted tender for two other machines and this time, locking out Tropical Ltd.

“The Kenya Prisons Services intends to purchase modern number plates production machines to modernise number plates production,” the letter said.

The  letter raises questions as  to why  other  machines  are  needed  yet  there is one that had already  been procured, installed  but  not  commissioned.

Another letter seen by our team sheds more light on the matter.

Another firm — Safenet Technologies — is interested in supplying the new hi-tech number plates making machine.

In March last year, the firm had written  to  the Permanent Secretary   Interior  Ministry raising queries about the machine  that was  brought  by Tropical Ltd from Mulschard of Germany.

“ Kindly  note  that the item 2 price( hinged  and  embossing  tool  system) for  tropical   technology  is  suspiciously   low for a  fully  hinged  embossing  system.  It is  advisable not  to rush in  signing off the  contract with  Tropical Technologies  without  carrying  out  due  diligence to establish  the  capacity to deliver as per  the specifications otherwise  we  do  suspect that  they shall deliver  different  type  of  die system made  of substandard  material,” the letter  by Safenet’s  managing Director John Wakahora read  in  part.

Safenet  Technologies  is slated as  number 13  in  the  letter written  this year  requesting for  two  other  machines.

However, the machines by Tropical Technologies had been tested by the Public Works department and given a clean bill of health.

The wrangles surrounding the hi-tech number plates does not end there.

The delivery of blank number plates and hot stamping foil has also raised issues.

The case was before the Public Procurement Administrative Board (PPARB) and now the High Court.

PPARB stripped the two tenders from EHA Hoffman International GmbH   and a Ugandan firm MIG International after it noted that massive discrepancies in the evaluation process.

Glaring errors

The  review  board  noted  that Hofman  had quoted   the  tender  for  the  blank plates at $ 2,317, 900  without  an  indication  if  it was  for the price of one  year, but  was  instead awarded  at a  price three  times  higher  at $ 6, 953, 700.

“The  board  wishes to take  note  that  when  the  matter came  for  hearing there was a concerted  effort  by the procuring  entity  to keep financial proposals submitted  by  successful  bidders   and  when  the documents  were  finally submitted,  it  became  obvious that  there  were  glaring errors some  of  which bordered on  fraud and  different  set  of  figures used  in carrying  out the  financial evaluation,”  the  board  noted. The  board  noted  that  the Prison’s department  had hiked  the  price  for Tropical  from $ 486.20  for  the  foils  to $ 17, 406.350.

Tropical Technologies asked  the  High  Court  to  dismiss  the two  companies  in their separate  cases as  the PPARB  had  delivered a  just decision.

“The allegation that the tax payer stands to lose Sh 320,000,000 unless the orders sought are granted is far fetched, fictitious, malicious and unsubstantiated to the extent that no evidence has been adduced to show how this figure is arrived at,” the  court  heard.

The allegation that the Government of Kenya stands to lose millions unless the orders sought are granted is unsubstantiated to the extent that the was not Tropical was the highest bidder in this particular tender,” in response to EHA Hofman’s  case, Tropical  told the  court.

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