By Richards Adeniyi
A maritime engineering firm, Dredging Atlantic Limited (DAL), has accused the management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) of adopting fraudulent procedures in the award of $44.861 million Warri Channel dredging contract to Dredging International Services Nigeria (DISN) Limited.
Addressing the media in Lagos recently, a legal counsel to DAL, one of the companies that participated in the bidding for the contract, Mr. Liborous Oshoma, alleged that the deal was marred with fraud arising from inconsistencies on the part of NPA.
Oshoma alleged that figures were falsified in an attempt to ensure that DISN bid was at par with the bid of his client to enable it win the contract.
He said DAL emerged first in the technical bid by scoring 89 points as against 75 points scored by DISN, and that his client also won the commercial bid with a bid sum of $44.880 million as against $44.998 million bid by Dredging International Limited.
Documents reportedly in possession of some newsmen, revealed that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) admitted a procedural lapse on the part of NPA in arithmetic correction in the figures of DAL.
Responding to the allegations by DAL, Assistant General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr. Ibrahim Nasiru, reportedly denied the claims, saying the allegations were unfounded and incorrect. He said every tender process emanating from NPA goes through due process and that the Warri Channel dredging contract cannot be an exception.
In response to a request for an administrative review of the decisions of the procurement department of NPA in respect of the contract, BPP in a letter to the Managing Director of DAL with reference no; BPP/S.1/A&WR/18/Vol.l/079 dated March 23, 2018, admitted that NPA carried out arithmetic corrections on the financial tenders of both Messrs Dredging International Services Nigeria and Dredging Atlantic Limited as part of the evaluation process to ensure that tender prices are correct and that bidders are properly ranked.
“Section 31(4) of the PPA, 2007 supports correction of arithmetic errors. The NPA, however, failed to communicate the outcome of the corrections to the affected bidders in line with Section 31(5) of the PPA, 2007. This procedural lapse has already been communicated to NPA to ensure compliance in subsequent procurements but is not grievous enough to warrant nullifying the tender exercise.”
The BPP added: “Messrs DAL alleged that NPA refused DAL/its representatives to countersign all vital pages of the tender of Messrs DISN. The Bureau observed this lapse during the prior review exercise on this procurement proceeding and drew the attention of NPA to Clause 60 of the Public Procurement Regulations for goods and works, and advised NPA to ensure strict compliance with this procedure in subsequent procurements in order to enhance transparency and ensure there are no substitutions of bids after submission.