The Public Procurement Review Panel has ordered the Central Procurement Board of Namibia (CPBN) to re-evaluate the N$3.5 billion tender to supply food to public schools in the country.
The panel’s decision follows after 11 unsuccessful bidders challenged the CPBN decision to award contracts to nine of the 96 companies who had tendered for the bid last year.
CPBN had awarded the tender to James and Young Enterprises, Beva Investments, Sash Trading and
Earthworks, Ndakalimwe Investments, Tuthikameni Pamwe Investments, Future Fresh Super Market, Om’kwana Caterer, Stream Two Properties and Fundamental Trading Enterprises.
“Having studied the evaluation sheets of the bid evaluation committee, the review panel found that the evaluation of this bid was not done in accordance with the criteria and methodology set out in the bidding document as described,” the review panel said in its verdict.
Thus, the panel gave additional instructions that CPBN must comply with.
CPBN was ordered to re-evaluate bids strictly in accordance with the criteria and methodology set out in the instructions to bidders to the extent that they are consistent with the provisions of the law.
CPBN should also re-evaluate the bids that contained Social Security Commission’s good standing certificates issued in respect of this bid.
Furthermore, aspects of the bid such as Namibianisation, storage facility or warehouse, should also be re-evaluated.
The review panel also ordered if the re-evaluation takes longer than the remaining portion of the extended bid validity period, CPBN should seek another extension with bidders.
However, “the re-evaluation herein is limited to bidders that have agreed in writing to the extension of the bid validity period in accordance with Section 49 (2) and/or 43 (3) (if applicable).”
In its findings, the review panel found that CPBN incorrectly assumed that the bidders ought to have known that the Social Security Commission’s good standing certificate had an expiry date or was linked to a validity period.
Thus, the CPBN misdirected itself and acted unprocedural and unreasonably when it disqualified bidders whose Social Security Commission’s good standing certificate was 30 days older than 7 September 2020.
The panel further noted that the bid closing date was initially extended due to the Covid-19 pandemic and bidders who obtained Social Security Commission’s good standing certificates in preparation of the first closing date should not have been disqualified.
In addition, the evaluation conducted by the bid evaluation committee regarding the storage facilities was not as per the requirement set out in the bidding document.
The review panel noted that it did not find any direct conflict of interest in bidders having the same registering accounting officer.
The 11 unsuccessful bidders argued that several of the awarded bidders have no prior experience in the catering business as their experience relates to mainly construction or property and the evaluation done by the board was not compliant with the Public Procurement Act as the methodology and criteria used to evaluate the bids was not as per the instructions to bidders contained in the bidding documents.
Furthermore, companies such as Fundamental Trading Enterprise and Tuthikameni Pamwe Investments were awarded contracts despite them not providing proof of a food storage facility as required by the bid.
In their defence, CPBN claims the criteria and methodology used to examine and evaluate bids were neither vague nor insufficient.
It submitted that bidders had the opportunity to seek clarification if they had questions regarding the evaluation, the qualification criteria, and the method of scoring.
The board indicated bids were selected for award based on their overall performance in the whole evaluation process and not only on their prices.
They further explained not having a warehouse was a criterion resulting in an automatic disqualification.
In addition, no bidder has been able to prove corruption in the evaluation process conducted by the CPBN.