Elections 2017

Fresh hurdle for polls team as ballots tender nullified, again

IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati. (Photo: Moses Omusula/Standard)

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) suffered a major setback last evening after a tender process for supply of ballot papers was nullified.

The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) ordered the process of identifying a supplier for the election materials be terminated, citing flaws in tender documents.

The Paul Gicheru-led board faulted the IEBC’s procurement department for bungling tender documents in the Sh2.5 billion tender, saying the papers were incurably flawed.

“A declaration be and is hereby issued declaring IEBC’s tender documents and the entire procurement process commenced in respect to tender no IEBC/48/2016-17 for supply and delivery for ballot papers, declaration forms and result declaration forms are incurably flawed and that the process is therefore declared void and is annulled and the tender process terminated forthwith,” Gicheru directed.

However, the board gave a reprieve to IEBC by allowing the commission to decide a method they deem convenient to pick the supplier.

“An order be and is hereby issued directing the procuring entity to re-tender and or procure afresh the election materials using such a method it may consider appropriate, taking into account time left between now and August 8 and all such other factors as it may consider necessary,” the board added.

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Friday, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said he had not been briefed on the development but was quick to add that the commission would meet by Monday to deliberate on the way forward in line with the directive. He said IEBC will investigate the procurement department, with them aim of holding those who bungled the process to account.

“We will hold a meeting to find the way forward but in the meantime, investigation will start immediately to establish who is responsible for the flawed process and disciplinary action will be taken on those culpable,” Chebukati told the Saturday Standard on the telephone from Narok where he was on duty.

Tender invitation

The board decision followed a request for review by Rosecate Promotions and Supplies Ltd filed on May 9 accusing IEBC of violating the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015 and procurement laws by floating an international tender and giving less than the 30-day required period between tender invitations and submission of bids.

Although the commission had argued that the board has no jurisdiction to review the tender process as it’s done under restricted tendering, Gicheru dismissed the objection saying the electoral agency had erred by purporting to use the restricted tendering yet the documents sent to bidders were meant for an open tendering. The PPARB directed its criticism to the IEBC’s procurement team saying even the method of communication to interested bidders was shrouded in mystery.

He questioned which method IEBC used to select firms that were invited to bid for the tender, saying the commission had failed to produce invitation letters to some of the firms before his board. This is double blow for the IEBC with just 79 days to the General Election given that an open tender that resulted into the contract being awarded to Dubai-based Al Ghurair Security Printing ltd was nullified by the High Court in February 2017. On May 9, Rosecate moved to the board to lodge a petition on the tender after crying foul over the short period of time bidders were given to submit their documents.

The firm had also questioned an indication that the commission was planning split the tender and award it to two or more other firms. Some of the local firms were pushing the IEBC to implement the 40 per cent requirement for tenders to go to local firms.

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Other than Al Ghurair, other firms competing for the deal are India’s G.I Solutions, Kenya’s Ellams Products Limited, UK’s Tall Security Printing, South Africa’s Uniprint, Eabaltijas of Lativia and Kenya’s Africa Infrastructure and Development Company.