Radar scandal exposed

Serious controversy has arisen over the government’s decision to award an airport RADAR contracts to Thales ATM (Pty) Limited a South African Company that was the highest bidder.

Differences have now arisen between the Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) and the Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communication over the manner the contract was awarded as it breached conditions thereby disadvantaging other bidders with cheaper offers.

Thales ATM (Pty) Limited is the same company that has landed former Communications and Transport Minister Dora Siliya in Court after she allegedly canceled the same contract awarded to them.

According to officials from ZPPA, the contract for the supply, delivery, installation, testing and commissioning of the Zambia Air Traffic Management Surveillance Radar System (ZATM-RADAR) to Thales ATM Systems would cost the country 10 million (K10 billion) more than other bidders.

The  Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications had on April,5th 2013 invited tenders for the contract which was eventually awarded to Thales ATM (Pty) Limited at a total cost of 13,513 536.00 Euros instead of 12,285, 330 Euros originally planned with no significant explanation for the upward variation in pricing.

According to the documentation obtained by the Daily Nation from ZPPA, five companies were shortlisted after being invited to bid for the tenders and only three managed to bid.

However, they were informed that the ministry had already awarded the tender and what they were doing was window-dressing.

The companies that were shortlisted for the tenders were Indra Company, Westinghouse, Lockheed Martin, Thales ATM (Pty) Limited and Raytheon Canada (Pty) Limited.

Officials from ZPPA who sought anonymity revealed that the procedure was flawed as it disadvantaged other competitors because of the change of pricing by the tender committee to suit Thales Air Systems.

The award was against the advise from the authority (ZPPA).

The officials also revealed that Thales Air System S.A also known as Thales ATM (Pty) Limited failed and neglected to include the contingency of ten per cent on  the pricing, the inclusion which was mandatory.

The official further said that at the time of bid opening, Thales ATM quoted 12 285 330 Euros about K91, 869, 697.74 (K91, 869, 697, 740) the amount which has since been inflated to 13,513 536.00 Euros about K101 054 222 20 (K101 054 222 208).

The official said that the action by the tender committee to allow Thales Air System SA to vary the bid price upwards was going against the conditions and rules that govern the tender procedures in the nation.

“This is bid was flawed because the tender committee went against the conditions provided in section 3 and 4 of the bid document of this tender. The tender committee was biased to this company and not the other four companies actually the other two because the other companies pulled out as a result of corruption and unfair treatment,” said the official who was part of the evaluation committee.

The officials also said that Thales Air System was also given an allowance to extend its bid period which was not the case with the rest of the bidders.