Search

Africa's Public Procurement & Entrepreneurship Research Initiative – APPERI

Category

Politics

Uganda: Embrace new guidelines for procurement


The Observer

Editorial Sunday August 24, 2014

The country has been left in some confusion as regards the upgrading of the Mukono-Katosi-Nyenga road.

First, the company that supposedly won the deal to build the 74-kilometre road is reported to have dissociated itself from the company in Uganda – with the same name – which signed the contract with the Uganda government. In the meantime, nearly Shs 25bn has already been paid out by the government to the contracted company.

Last week, MPs toured the road and found that some 13 kilometres had already been covered. This raises the question: which company is doing the Mukono-Katosi roads. Could it be that the Eutaw that signed the contract in Kampala only shares a name with the Eutaw in the United States? There are strong indications that the Uganda government has been taken for a ride.

But as the police tries to get to the root of the matter, the junior minister for Works, John Byabagambi, last week made a startling revelation; he suggested that as many as 50 per cent of the firms that bid for public contracts in this country were not genuine. Quoted in The Observer on Friday, Byabagambi said these companies were so crafty they could beat any amount of due diligence.

These are perilous times for a country whose president only recently renewed his commitment to fight corruption. Despite Byabagambi’s telling statistic, however, it is important that everything possible is done to ensure that these disingenuous firms do not find an ingenuous government bureaucracy. Instead, technocrats in government should develop some kind of sixth sense to beat the craftiness.

A good starting point is the guidelines recently issued by the secretary to the Treasury, Mr Keith Muhakanizi. As The Observer reported on Friday, Muhakanizi wants a three-phase system of due diligence involving accounting officers, financial institutions and the Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority.

It is important these guidelines are followed and any breaches thereof followed by stringent sanctions. Obviously the crafty businessmen and women could find loopholes, but the public procurement system needs to ensure it remains one step ahead of those who want to steal from Ugandan taxpayers.

 

Margaret Thatcher, public procurement pioneer and advocate?


Spend Matters

By Peter Smith

April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, who died today, was the United Kingdom’s most important politician of the last 50 years. She will be remembered for both her domestic leadership, as she turned round what seemed like a country in inexorable decline through the 1970s, and her role in foreign policy, from the Falklands to supporting Reagan in the “defeat” of the USSR.

But she can also take some credit as one of the key founding fathers (mothers?) of professional public sector procurement. Under her period of office as Prime Minister, 1979 – 90, we saw major advances in procurement throughout the public sector.  As David Smith, Commercial Director at the Department of Work and Pensions, CIPS President last year and someone who was one of the pioneers of public procurement himself, said to us today:

“She was really the first Prime Minister in the UK to take seriously the whole concept that government spending needed to be efficient and effective. She instigated the first government procurement review in 1984, which really led to the Treasury Central Unit on Procurement being formed, more senior procurement staff in departments, and eventually OGC, ERG and all the focus we’ve seen since on public sector procurement”.

She also led the drive to involve the private sector more in the delivery of government services. Now, just like the more divisive side of her achievements on the economic front (miners’ strike et al), you might look either positively or negatively at “compulsory competitive tendering” and “market testing” as the beginning of the whole outsourcing boom and greater private sector involvement in public services.

But if you remember the days of the local authority works’ departments, and their total lack of any customer or VFM focus (and often a dollop of corruption to go alongside that), then it’s hard to argue against her view that competition and procurement had to be taken more seriously if the taxpayer was to receive value for money for an ever-increasing investment.

And as well as being arguably the inventor of public sector outsourcing, it was under her leadership that the first serious Procurement Directors started appearing in government departments. I did my stint as a government CPO not long after she’d moved on, but her influence was still clear in the approach of Ministers like  Peter Lilley and Michael Heseltine, with their support for further innovative procurement initiatives around outsourcing and PFI for instance.

As David Smith said today,

“Whatever you think of her politics, she was a friend of the profession, and a genuine pioneer in understanding the importance of the role in the public sector. Many of the things we take for granted now in public procurement started because of her”.

RIP Baroness Thatcher.

Kenya: Minutes reveal how IEBC bought pollbooks


Standard Digital

By Moses Michira and Paul Wafula

March 26, 2013

NAIROBI, KENYAThe electoral commission, which conducted the March 4 General Election, bought voter identification gadgets without testing their technical capability.

Face Technology, the South African firm that supplied the equipment also known as poll books, won the tender before a technical evaluation was conducted among the five prequalified bidders.

A review of the tendering procedure by the public procurement regulator found out the tender to supply poll books was awarded to the South African firm, which participated in the Anglo Leasing scandal, on September 29 last year, three weeks before the technical evaluation among the shortlisted bidders.

This major procurement breach ensured firms that were to later demonstrate their capabilities for the task, like America’s Avante and France’s Safran Morpho were left out.

The public procurement regulator, however, found out IEBC had actually made its decision to award the tender to Face Technology more than three weeks before the October 22 demonstration of technical capabilities.

Minutes from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC and presented by Avante to the regulator indicated that the tender was actually awarded on September 29.

“…bidder number 3 M/S Face Technology be considered for the award of the contract at a total cost of Sh1.397724925 ($16651139.13),” reads part of the official information from IEBC’s September 29 meeting.

The regulator says since a decision had been made, the exercise of proof of concept was meaningless becauseFace Technology, whose devise had failed, had been shockingly declared the winner. The revelation now provides the critical answers to the billion-dollar question, what exactly went wrong in the voter identification during the last General Election conducted by IEBC?

The public procurement regulator fell short of cancelling IEBC’s tender, only allowing it to proceed in the greater public interest considering the time left, on its December 3, last year, terse ruling. IEBC’s defence was that Face Technology had the lowest quote at Sh1.39 billion disregarding its inability to produce the required equipment, compared to Safran Morpho’s Sh1.6 billion and Avante’s Sh2.1 billion.

Questionable tendering

IEBC’s motivation in awarding the tender to Face Technology was questioned by the regulator who established an uneven playing ground in the procurement process. Face Technology had presented a prototype that never worked at the tendering stage, but the IEBC inexplicably offered the firm another chance to demonstrate its technical capability.

A meeting between IEBC and the three prequalified bidders held on October 10, last year indicated Safran Morpho declined to parade its prototype, while Face Technology’s equipment fell short of the requirements in the tender document.

“(Avante’s prototype) can satisfactorily meet the specifications provided in the tender document for voter identification device,” further reads the report. “( Face Technology) did not demonstrate a prototype that met the proof of concept requirements as stipulated in the tender document.”

IEBC invited Face Technology and Safran Morpho in a subsequent demonstration, leaving out Avante, which had demonstrated its technical capacity, in a meeting held on October 22. Minutes of the meeting show Face Technology presented a different device from that submitted during the close of the tender, a major procurement breach, which the IEBC turned a blind eye to.

During the evaluation,Face Technologyprovided a prototype device, which lacked a spare power back-up of 12 hours that was marked as critical. It also did not have an original battery attached to the laptops that would last for 12 hours.

The device it supplied at this stage did not meet the requirement that its start-up and recovery time would last less than 30 seconds. This means the prototype ofFace Technology was taking longer to start than required. None of the companies that qualified for the second round of evaluation also provided gadgets that had unique identification numbers assigned by the manufacturers. Lack of this detail exposes the gadgets to difficulties in tracing the user and location in case they are used to hack into the system. The Board accuses the IEBC of being cosy with Face Technologyand finding small excuses with the other companies to disqualify them.

“It (IEBC) appears to have adopted in the processing of this tender, a scheme of nit-picking, when it came to the tenders of the bidders it did not favour, and one of cosiness when it came with the successful bidder (Face Technologies),” a report, critical of the process, reads in part.

The revelations come at a time when it emerged the electronic voting and transmission system could have been attacked at least twice before it finally crashed at 8pm on Election Day.

Algerians outraged over latest corruption accusations against state oil and gas behemoth


Fox News

March 3, 2013 / Associated Press

ALGIERS, Algeria –  Corrupt and gorging itself at the trough of Algeria’s vast oil wealth — that’s how most Algerians privately view the elites running the country. Yet few have been willing to say so publicly, until now.

New corruption scandals are shining a new spotlight on state oil company Sonatrach, which jointly with BP and Norway’s Statoil runs the desert gas plant that was the scene of a bloody hostage standoff in January.

A recent anguished public plea by a former Sonatrach official shocked Algerians and raised hopes that the leadership will try to clean up the oil and gas sector in Africa’s largest country.

There’s plenty at stake: Algeria is also one of the continent’s richest countries, as the No. 3 supplier of natural gas to Europe, with $190 billion in reserves, up $8 billion in the last year alone.

The Feb. 18 letter by former Sonatrach vice president Hocine Malti in the French-language Algerian daily El Watan broke the silence around the company. Addressing the shadowy leader of Algeria’s intelligence service, it asks if he is really serious about investigating new bribery scandals involving Sonatrach and Italian and Canadian companies.

When Italian prosecutors in January announced an investigation into oil company ENI and subsidiary SAIPEM for allegedly paying €197 million ($256.1 million) in bribes to secure an €11 billion contract with Sonatrach, it provoked a firestorm in the Algerian media, until the North African country’s justice system finally announced its own inquiry Feb. 10.

Malti, author of the “Secret History of Algerian Oil,” scoffed that Algerian authorities were only following the lead of international investigators and wondered if Mohammed “Tewfik” Mediene, the feared head of the Department of Research and Security, would allow the real sources of corruption to be tried in court.

“Is it too much to dream that some of your fellow generals, certain ministers or corrupt businessmen — members of the pyramid that you are on top of — members of this fraternity, might also end up in front of justice?” he asked in the letter. “Or will it be like always, just the small fry are targeted by this new investigation?”

“Will we have to continue to listen for news from the Milan prosecutor to know the sad reality of our country, to discover how certain people, whom you know quite well, people you have come across in your long professional career, have gorged themselves on millions of dollars and euros of the country’s oil revenues?” he added.

The response to the letter was swift. Energy Minister Youcef Yousfi promised that once an investigation was complete “we will take all necessary measures” against those harming the interests of the nation.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who rarely appears in public, said in a written statement, “these revelations provoke our disgust and condemnation, but I trust the justice system of our country to bring clarity to the web of accusations and discover who is responsible.”

Malti told The Associated Press by telephone from his home in France that he wrote the letter partly out of anger that Algeria had to rely on foreign prosecutors to reveal the extent of its own corruption and addressed it to the head of intelligence to shock people.

“It made a lot of noise because with this letter, I broke a taboo,” he said. “The head of the DRS is an unapproachable figure in Algeria, at times we can’t even pronounce (say) his name.”

It is not the first time the state-owned hydrocarbon company, which provides Algeria with 97 percent of its hard currency earnings, has been enmeshed in scandal.

In 2010, its head, three of its vice presidents and the minister of energy were all fired in a corruption investigation run by Mediene’s intelligence agency.

However, rather than restore faith in the country’s corruption-fighting mechanism, the 2010 purge was widely seen as a chance to settle scores between the DRS and Bouteflika, since most of those fired were his close associates.

Algeria ranks 105 out of 176 in Transparency International‘s 2012 corruption index, and the occasional corruption investigation often just seems to be how the elites settle their scores, such as a string of revelations about prominent politicians in November, which observers said were linked to next year’s presidential elections.

“I realize that people might be shocked by what is happening at Sonatrach — these scandals are terrible and we condemn them as individual acts,” Sonatrach head Abdelhamid Zerguine said on the radio Sunday, the anniversary of Algeria’s 1971 nationalization of its oil industry from the French. He promised to fight further corruption “with utmost vigor,” even while denying it was systemic.

The scale of the scandals is staggering. Nearly €200 million ($260 million) was paid out by the Italians, according to the Milan prosecutor. ENI has pledged full cooperation with prosecutors in their investigations.

Meanwhile, according to a joint investigation by Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper and an Italian business paper published Feb. 22, Canadian company SNC-Lavalin paid a series of bribes of its own to secure a $1 billion engineering contract. Company spokeswoman Lilly Nguyen responded to queries about the case saying “to the best of our knowledge, SNC-Lavalin is not specifically under investigation in the Sonatrach matter.”

With commissions on deals like this going to the highest levels of power, the Algerian press rarely reports about it — until the subject is broached by the foreign media.

Malti, who was there at the founding of Sonatrach in 1963, estimated that the country was losing between $3 and 6 billion annually to corruption in the oil sector alone.

“If a judge says that an inquiry has opened or even a minister promises to take measures against ‘people working against Algeria’s interests,’ I don’t believe them,” Mohammed Saidj, a professor of international relations at Algiers University, told the AP. “It’s just words to appease a public opinion shocked when it hears about the corruption and billions of dollars stolen by high-level political and military officials, including those close to the president.”

The chances of this situation changing are dim, considering how much the country relies on a single company.

In a chapter on Sonatrach in the 2012 book “Oil and Governance,” John Entelis, an Algeria expert at New York’s Fordham University, described the importance of a company established just a year after Algeria won its independence from France, and wrote, “Algeria’s governing elite rely upon Sonatrach for revenue from which they gain power, patronage, and privileges.”

Entelis told AP that the letter in El Watan shows that Algerians are increasingly able to complain about this system, even if that won’t necessarily change things.

“This is the heart of the Algerian political system — Sonatrach, the DRS, civil society in the form of … willingness to make these things public. Some say this is what enables it to maintain itself instead of collapse,” he said.

___

Paul Schemm reported from Rabat, Morocco. Associated Press writer Karim Kebir contributed to this report from Algiers, Algeria.

Supply Chain Management – turning professional?


The Guardian

The trend for professionalising supply chain management in the private sector is slowly reaching the public sector in Africa but still rarely appears anywhere near the top of development agendas.

The trend for professionalising supply chain management in the private sector is slowly reaching the public sector in Africa but still rarely appears anywhere near the top of development agendas. This despite the fact that, in many developing countries, public procurement accounts for over 50% of GDP, or considerably more where the private sector is small.

Historically, procurement and supply chain management have been undervalued and viewed as a process rather than a professional function. With the realisation that effective supply chain management plays a critical role in ensuring funds are well used, value for money in the delivery of basic services is achieved, and transparency and accountability is assured, the value of professional supply chain management needs to be recognised. How will this happen in countries where procurement is viewed as an “add-on” to other careers?

The wave of legal and institutional reforms to public procurement across Africa over the past few years has certainly focused attention more firmly on the question of capacity building. Many universities are subsequently providing pre-service training in supply chain management which is beginning to instil an early appreciation of the value of the function.

In the health sector, where the issues are more acute, major programmes to combat diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have highlighted the importance of strong procurement and supply chain due to the critical need for regular access to medical supplies. The World Health Organization identifies equitable access to medical products, vaccines and other technologies as one of the six building blocks to a well-functioning health system. The traditional approach to provide expensive in-service supply chain management training to doctors and pharmacists so that they can add this on to their day job is slowly changing but more needs to be done to raise the profile of supply chain management in health institutions.

This trend towards institutional reform in the public procurement sector is not focused solely on health. Procurement training is increasingly available at all levels, from basic introductions to new procurement procedures to academic courses run by universities. Crown Agents has worked with the governments of several African countries to ensure that their procurement capacity building strategies are delivered. Our long expertise in supply chain management and procurement reform and our ability to understand the local environment enable us to work with procurement authorities across Africa. In Ghana for example we helped to develop a whole programme of professional development that covered short, medium and long-term requirements. We partnered with the Institute of Management and Public Administration to implement the short-term plan which was based on training an estimated 25,000 people including procurement staff, tender committees, the private sector and oversight institutions addressing the cross-cutting nature of procurement. We also teamed up with tertiary education institutions to develop the medium and long term training which included a bachelors level degree course in procurement.

Professionalisation is not just about training; it is about transforming the view of the profession itself to ensure a local supply of qualified new recruits in the future. Securing professional accreditation validates and upholds the importance of the supply chain management role. In Botswana for example the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board is seeking accreditation of its training materials both nationally and internationally after Crown Agents helped it to develop a series of procurement training modules and completed a training-the-trainers course prior to building capacity in its procuring entities.
Many countries are even establishing their own national professional bodies as membership of international professional institutions such as UK Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport expands significantly in Africa.
In the health sector there are also a number of initiatives that support the strategic role of supply chain managers. Crown Agents has provided technical support and is an active stakeholder in ‘The People That Deliver’ initiative which promotes workforce excellence in supply chain management.
Building supply chain competence and promoting and valuing supply chain management as a professional career can make a positive impact on a country’s economic development and its people’s lives.

Content on this page is produced and controlled by Crown Agents.

Nigeria Validates Manitoba’s Power-Mangement Contract


Bloomberg

By Elisha Bala-Gbogbo

Nov 21, 2012

Nigeria validated a power-management contract signed by Canada’s Manitoba Hydro Electric Board in July to run the state-owned power utility Transmission Co. of Nigeria after regulatory approval, the Bureau of Public Enterprises, the privatization agency, said.

“We have received ratification from the Bureau of Public Procurement and the contract has been certified,” Chukwuma Nwokoh, a spokesman for the Abuja-based privatization agency said by phone today. Under Nigerian laws, all contracts entered into by the government needs to be certified by the Bureau of Public Procurement.

Reuben Abati, a spokesman for President Goodluck Jonathan, on Nov. 14 announced the cancellation of the contract saying the correct procedure wasn’t followed. Manitoba “did not follow the law strictly” and initial report of the termination was a “misunderstanding,” Jonathan said on Nov. 18 in an interview broadcast on state-rub television NTA

Nigeria, Africa’s top oil producer, is selling majority stakes in power plants and letting private investors buy as much as 60 percent of 11 distribution companies spun out of the former state-owned utility as it seeks private investment to curb power shortages. Blackouts are a daily occurrence in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with more than 160 million people. Demand for electricity in Nigeria is almost double the supply of about 4,000 megawatts and the government plans to boost output to 14,019 megawatts by 2013.

Bids worth more than $2 billion by companies including Siemens AG (SIE) and Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEP) were approved by the government for the sale of the companies on Oct. 30.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elisha Bala-Gbogbo in Abuja atebalagbogbo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dulue Mbachu at dmbachu@bloomberg.net

 

South Africa: Gordhan’s war on incompetence and impunity


Mail & Guardian

By Faranaaz Parker

July 24, 2012

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has revealed plans for the national treasury to take a much tighter grip on local governments‘ finances. See the full report here.

Following the release of a damning report on the scale of mismanagement at municipal levels, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Monday revealed that the national treasury would take a tighter grip on procurement processes across the country.

Gordhan announced that treasury would create a procurement oversight unit to actively enforce supply chain management at a national level and would shortly appoint a chief procurement officer. The position would be advertised in two weeks and would be established within the next two months.

“Where there are transactions for a particular size or type within the national domain there must be the ability to assess whether they meet market criteria in terms of prices [and] whether proper processes havebeen followed,” he said.

The announcement was an indictment of local government’s failure to spend and account for public money effectively.

The minister was speaking at the release of auditor general Terence Nombembe’s report on local government audit results, which showed that only 5% of all municipal entities – a total of 13 – had achieved clean audits for the year 2010/2011.

Gordhan said IT systems would be developed to allow the treasury to actively monitor compliance with financial management requirements so that it may demand information regarding procurements, such as how decisions were made and by whom.

Spending fiascos

The move may help prevent public spending fiascos such as the multibillion-rand leasing scandal that saw former police chief Bheki Cele and former public works minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde sacked last year.

Gordhan said the government should be able to demonstrate that there were consequences for nonperformance and for working outside the law.

“At the moment, those consequences are not there. When consequences are not there continuously then a level of impunity develops,” he said.

He said the new oversight mechanism would require the help of law enforcement agencies, who would bear the responsibility of preparing cases against and prosecuting those guilty of corruption.

With reference to the auditor general’s report, Gordhan said he was particularly disappointed that some large metros, which had better skills and capacity than small municipalities, did not received clean audits.

“If they can’t meet simple criteria in financial management, then it’s a matter the treasury has to take a closer look at,” he said.

Nombembe’s damning report
Nombembe’s report showed there were three root causes behind the slow progress towards clean audits in local government.

The biggest problem, he said, was a general lack of consequence for poor performance. Modified audit results were simply considered the norm, he said.

In addition, over 70% of those audited did not have the minimum competencies and skills required to perform their jobs.

Worryingly, over half of the municipalities audited were slow in responding to the auditor general’s suggestions and were not taking ownership of key financial controls.

Nombembe said if these issues were not addressed, they would continue to weaken governance.

He also complained that most municipalities employed consultants in areas where they already had people to do the work, and even then the results were not as good as they should be.

Cedric Frolick, National Assembly house chairperson, agreed, saying: “What are the employees doing when 70% of the work is being done by people who must be paid for it on top of their salaries?”

“Why are people who are not doing their job, being allowed to keep on [not] doing it?”

Meeting the criteria
But Minister in the Presidency responsible for performance, monitoring and evaluation Collins Chabane said because of the way the three spheres of government were structured, it was difficult to make interventions in local government unless specific criteria had been met.

“It creates a complication where no other authority can intervene, by law, until that municipality makes a decision,” he said.

Chabane said in future, the performance of departments and institutions may be linked to the performance of the heads of those institutions.

“That will begin to bring accountability,” he said.

Meanwhile Subesh Pillay, chairperson of the South African Local Government Association, said it was important to remember that clean audits were a means to an end.

“That end is to ensure that local government become efficient and effective organs of service delivery,” he said.

Kenya: Procurement law set for review


 

Sunday Nation

By  TOM MOSOBA tmosoba@tz.nationmedia.com

August 18th, 2012

IN SUMMARY

  • The review is in response to a spate of court cases and controversies that continue to plague tendering for major public projects, including those in critical areas such as the forthcoming General Election, national security and infrastructure development, he said.
  • Local suppliers also want to use the window to seek legal protection against stiff competition from established foreign firms while a stringent appeals formula is being proposed as the best way to escape prolonged litigation among querulous bidding parties.
  • But the law society says corruption and lack of capacity in public entities, rather than the flaws in the law itself, were to blame for the procurement gridlock.

The procurement law is finally to be reviewed to remove bottlenecks in tendering for public projects and make it easier for private entities to transact business.

The ministry of Finance is spearheading the process to amend the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 and attendant regulations, ostensibly to align it with the new Constitution, but there is the view that it is largely to fix growing tendering nightmares.

However, the Law Society of Kenya has cautioned against mutilating the law and has asked the government identify ways to address tendering loopholes and confront corruption which it says is the main issue.

Public Procurement Oversight Authority director-general Maurice Juma told the Sunday Nation in an interview that the agency and other parties have started on the review.

Mr Juma said the amendments would help plug a number of shortcomings and incorporate lessons learnt over the five years that the Procurement Act has been in force.

“A number of stakeholders’ views and input have been gathered and will inform the amendments envisaged in the new Act,” he said.

“At this point in time, views and comments gathered from stakeholders are raw proposals for amendments. The next step will be validation of these views through public consultative meetings with various stakeholders.

“It is only then that we will have specific and concrete proposed amendments that we can share with you and other interested parties,” he said when pressed for specifics.

The review is in response to a spate of court cases and controversies that continue to plague tendering for major public projects, including those in critical areas such as the forthcoming General Election, national security and infrastructure development, he said.

The push to amend the procurement law recently attracted the attention of Prime Minister Raila Odinga who said new legislation must be put in place urgently to cater for Kenya’s development needs.

The current one, he noted, was forced on Kenya by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The Sunday Nation learned that among the changes being sought by the private sector include the separation of the tender process for huge projects from the routine undertakings by ministries and public agencies.

Local suppliers also want to use the window to seek legal protection against stiff competition from established foreign firms while a stringent appeals formula is being proposed as the best way to escape prolonged litigation among querulous bidding parties.

Kenya’s Vision 2030 chief executive officer Mugo Kibati said the amendments were inescapable if the country is to move forward. “We cannot move this way, and I have made my point to the Treasury and the Public Procurement Oversight Authority,” he said.

Mr Kibati said tendering for infrastructural projects with a huge economic impact on the country should not be subject to the same kind of bureaucracy common in ministries and the same adjudicating committees involved in buying furniture and cars.

“The current law also encourages unnecessary and costly court suits and is short on the sophistication that is needed for some of the projects lined up to attain growth levels of a newly industrialised economy,” Mr Kibati said.

A new law that offers remedy to aggrieved parties but does not hold the nation at ransom or punish hard-working public servants at the behest of a few profiteers is what is desired, he said.

Kenya Publishers Association chairman Lawrence Njagi said the new law should clearly define the role of the public private partnership in procurement.

“For instance, to get value for money, we as publishers would like to be involved in the auditing of post- bidding services to ensure what was sold is actually delivered to the final consumers,” he said.

Mr Njagi said the 10 per cent country preference rule should also be operationalised to safeguard local manufacturers against undue foreign completion.

Public sensitisation

“The private sector would also like to be involved in public sensitisation because as it is now the task cannot be carried out sufficiently by the oversight authority,” he said.

But the law society says corruption and lack of capacity in public entities, rather than the flaws in the law itself, were to blame for the procurement gridlock. (READ: Public procurement a haven of graft, TI)

“There could be some justification for those advocating the amendments, but I must say that corruption remains the biggest threat, and therefore as a country we should be careful not to mutilate the stringent regulations to check the vice,” cautioned Mr Eric Mutua, the law society chairman.

“We should look at the bigger picture and demand that only minimal amendments be allowed,” he said. The chairman said many times government officials have overlooked legal counsel to engage in wheeler-dealing.

Earlier, Mr Juma reinforced the corruption claim and said it is a monster that all must be ready to face. He also said the penchant for shortcuts did not help matters.

“We have had instances where procuring entities are brought before the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board and advised to address various anomalies before they re-tender. When they re-tender, these entities ignore the advice of the Board and commit the same mistakes… In such cases, the law cannot be blamed for deliberate human failures,” he said.

On the positive, he said the high number of procurement cases and complaints filed with Public Procurement Oversight Authority and the procurement review board is proof that more people were now conversant with the procurement law and are aware of their rights.

 

Nigeria: Zobe Dam Unutilized 29 Years After Commissioning


AllAfrica.com

By Shehu Bubakar

August 4th, 2012

Completed in 1983, Zobe dam is still not being used for water supply, for local irrigation or for power generation.

The construction of Zobe Dam near Dutsin-Ma in Katsina state began in 1972 and was commissioned in July 1983 by the defunct second republic administration then President Shehu Shagari. It has however been abandoned soon after it was commissioned. The Dam, Weekly Trust learnt, could not be able to pump a single cup of water for consumption to the host community and other neighbouring states.

The Dam constructed specifically to provide potable drinking water to Dutsin-Ma and adjoining towns and villages, provide water for irrigation farming and serve as an instrument for flood control, but checks by Weekly Trust revealed that when in 1983 the Dam construction was completed and commissioned, successive administrations that ought to construct water treatment plans for the treatment of potable water and the construction of channels for distribution of water for irrigation were abandoned.

Constructed at the sum of N52 million in the early 80s, Zobe Dam occupies an area of 5,200 hectares with a 2.75 kilometers long standard embankment designed to prevent the water from spilling out of control. Though solid and still very strong to hold the 177 million cubic meters of water it is designed to contain, the earth Dam being manually operated get it water from Karaduwa and Bunsuru rivers and discharges its excess water to as far as Wamakko in Sokoto state where it joins the Sokoto River.

42 year old resident of Dutsin-Ma, Malam Abubakar Sani said though he was too young to know when the Dam was constructed, he grew up to see it as an abandoned project, adding, “The story I had about the Dam was not a very good one. Some people said Shagari could not be able to award contract for the laying of the pipes to draw water to Katsina and Dutsin-Ma because shortly after commissioning the Dam, he was over thrown by General Muhammadu Buhari.

“Buhari’s government was said to have refused to complete the project believing that the credit will go to the Shagari’s regime he over threw. Other successive administrations also abandoned it. When Buhari’s led PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund) embarked on the construction of the water treatment plan that could have made it to start treating water and pumping water for both domestic and industrial use, General Sani Abacha died and his government and the PTF regime died before the completion of the project.

“Obasanjo’s administration refused to continue with the project because it may make Buhari more popular being the initiator. And you know Buhari has all this while been the major opposition leader in the country. Not even the Musa Yar’adua’s regime could go ahead with the project because though very dear to the state and the development of irrigation activities and human welfare, the fact remains that the water treatment plant was initiated by Buhari and is an opposition leader. This is the most reasonable and acceptable theory you can ever get on the reason why the project is abandoned for this long period of time.

“We are very much aware that the present administration in the state did its best to get the federal government to re-award the contract but all its efforts failed. That informed the decision of the state government to award contract for the construction of its own Dam at the same Dutsin-Ma just a forth night ago. That is to show you that the state government and the people of the state have lost confidence in the Dam ever becoming functional,” he said.

But the Managing Director and chief executive officer of Sokoto-Rima River Basin Development Authority (SRRBDA) who are the custodians of all federal government own Dams in Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states, Engineer Khalid Yusuf said though it is not within his purview to know why the project suffers setback, he suspect inadequate funds.

“Possibly because of cash flow but it is not contractual. The fact of the matter is that one is not within my purview. It is under the purview of the federal ministry of water resources. Even the irrigation facility construction is under the ministry. But when the facility is completed and handed over to us, we are going to be the custodians.

“I think it has to do with the problem of cash flow. I don’t know much about it. I know it is a very laudable project in which government will be very proud to finish and put to use because it will impact very positively on the transformation agenda of Mr President. Once that project is put to use, it will increase food production. It will also provide job opportunity and improve on the income generation. We are talking of 1,200 hectares. It is not a small project.

“The dam was completed and commissioned by the then President Shehu Shagari in 1983. That is almost 30 years now. So, if somebody said it is underutilized, yes it is underutilized. I must admit that the company that designed and constructed that dam did an excellent job because it is still solid. It is still storing the water but unfortunately some of the things that will put the water into use have not emanated.

“For instance, there should be a regional water supply. The contract has been going on for a very longtime now. The water treatment plant is on the ground. Some of the pipes are there. When you go along Kafin Soli towards Kankiya you see some pipes and tanks being erected. Likewise the irrigation project which started and stopped. The farmlands are there. Majority of the channels have been constructed. I believe in few months that contracts can be completed. But because of problem of cash flow, work has stopped there. Once the project is completed, is a matter of few months we shall start tapping its potentials. It is long overdue,” he said.

He said some people are thinking in terms of installing mini-hydro power plant at Zobe Dam which he said can be made possible. He however, warned that things must be done right so as not to temper with the reason why the dam was initially constructed which include flood control, regional water supply and for irrigated agriculture.

“Yes, hydro power is one of the other facilities we can provide there. It has not been installed but it can be redesigned to incorporate it at both Goronyo and Zobe dams. Already, Bakalori dam has the facility but unfortunately it stopped functioning about two years after installation. That was in the 80s. However, government is interested in reviving the facility.

“We are testing the ground to see if the facility can be revived. Owing to the duration the facility has been out of service, some of the components needed to revive the hydro power turbines may no longer be available. The company that fabricated the turbines and the generators over 30 years ago may not be functional now. They are Italian companies. So, these are the things we have to review and rethink about,” he said.

Weekly Trust investigation revealed that Reynolds Construction Company (RCC) Nigeria Limited handling the construction of the water treatment plant had abandoned the job and demobilized from the site after constructing most of the required structures and even installed the required tanks and machines. What is not however clear is whether or not the installed machines are still serviceable after several years of neglect.

The construction of the two main channels awarded to CGC from the Dam to the irrigation farms with a combined distance of 44 kilometers have been abandoned after recording some achievements. One of the channels measuring 23 kilometers has recorded 12 kilometers while the other one of 21 kilometers has reached 11 kilometers before the company stopped work.

Both companies were reported to have abandoned the projects and demobilized from sites due to none payment of their contract sum by government. Though there was no evidence of vandalism of any equipment at the time this reporter visited the area, there is fear that some of the installed machines may decay.

Efforts made to seek comments from the Minister for Water Resources were not successful as he is either said to be busy or out on official assignment. However, a source at the ministry that spoke on condition of anonymity said frequent changes in government policies were responsible for abandoning such projects for long.

“Today government will merge us with the ministry of agriculture and the next day they will say we are on our own. Until you get leaders at all levels that knows the value of mass agricultural production, such projects that are capable of turning around the economy of this country will continue to be neglected or even abandoned. It is true that both CGC Nigeria Limited that was constructing the channels and RCC that was constructing the water treatment are being owed some money and have not been paid so sometimes now and so they all demobilized and left the sites.

“No, you do not blame the ministry but you blame members of the National Assembly from that state. What is their work? Don’t they know how important the project is to the state? What have they done to ensure that it is completed? What other work do they have more than to pursue their constituency projects? Let us face the truth,” the source said.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: