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Lloyd Gumbo Harare Bureau
THE State Procurement Board has cancelled the 300 Megawatts solar projects indefinitely after one winning bidder increased its price, while Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC) failed to agree with two other firms that had been considered for the other solar plants.
This effectively leaves the government’s quest to find a quick solution to power crisis in the country in disarray as it had hoped that 300MW would be fed to the national grid by next year.

The SPB awarded a tender for a 100MW solar plant in Gwanda to China Jiangxi Corporation, which was the lowest bidder to specification at about $184 million.

However, they then made a U-turn by approving a request by ZPC to engage two other losing bidders — Intratrek Zimbabwe and ZTE Corporation — despite the fact that they had charged $248 million and $358,3 million respectively at the initial tender for 100MW project each.

The ZPC claimed the two firms had agreed to match the $184 million charged by China Jiangxi Corporation.

But correspondences seen by our Harare Bureau indicate that the SPB then cancelled all the three tenders.

SPB principal officer, Cledwyn Nyanhete, on July 31, 2014, wrote to China Jiangxi Corporation managing director cancelling the tender award after the firm requested to increase the price from $184 million to $207 million.

The firm argued that the new price included duties and taxes, a position the SPB dismissed, arguing that the costs were already catered for.

Nyanhete said the reasons for increased costs were not justifiable and in contravention of Section 39 (1) (b) of the Procurement  Act.

“Accordingly, through PBR 0001J of July 17, 2014, the State Procurement Board resolved that; PBR 0001 of January 16, 2014 in favour of China Jiangxi Corporation Ltd for funding, engineering, procurement and construction of 1x100MW solar power project at Gwanda/Plumtree be and is hereby cancelled for failure by the winning bidder to maintain their original tender price of $183,708,238.51 (inclusive of duties and taxes),” said Nyanhete.

“China Jiangxi Corporation for International Economic and Technical Cooperation Ltd should within 14 days of notification pay $900.00 administration fees in line with S.I 159 of October 12, 2012 for violation of Section 39 (1) (b) of the Procurement Act by misrepresenting a material fact in a tender process.

“The board further resolved that you be warned against violation of procurement procedures in future as this may result in sanction in terms of Section 32 of the Procurement Regulations being preferred against you.”

Nyanhete also wrote to Intratrek Zimbabwe P/L managing director on July 28, 2014, advising them that varying the technical partner for Intratrek Zimbabwe from Greenfield Solar Europa GmbH of Germany to Chint Electrical Ltd of China after the tender award was not consistent with primary conditions of mandated negotiations.

He wrote another letter to Intratrek Zimbabwe managing director and ZTE Corporation Ltd managing director on July 31, 2014, saying ZPC had advised the SPB that negotiations with the two firms had failed.

A procurement expert said the SPB should have opened the tender to other bidders soon after ZPC indicated that it wanted variation of the projects from the initial 100MW to 300MW.

“What has happened is that while the SPB may claim to be justified in making this decision, it should have never got to this situation because the tender should have been opened the moment ZPC said they wanted 300MW instead of 100MW,” said the expert.

“This has obviously resulted in almost a year being lost on something that should have been done properly from the word go.

“What is left now is for the SPB to open the tender to other people with a varied requirement of 300MW than the initial 100MW. They cannot award it to any of the three firms without opening it to public tender.”

Energy and Power Development Minister Dzikamai Mavhaire has been pinning hope on solar projects as quick solutions to the power deficit in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe’s power plants produce about 1,300MW against a peak demand of more than 2,400MW.