€40m in public tenders ‘negotiated’ with unsuccessful biddersGovernment resorting to ‘negotiated procedure’ when bidders do not meet requirements
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has given the green light to the Department of Contracts to ‘negotiate’ some €40 million worth of public tenders with private companies despite the latter not meeting the requirements specified in the original offer.
According to information submitted in Parliament recently, under Prof. Scicluna’s direction, the ministry approved some 17 public tenders, mostly of a substantial value, to be awarded through a so-called “negotiated procedure”, allowed by European Union public procurement rules to be used only in extreme instances of urgency.
EU public procurement rules dictate that a ‘negotiated procedure’ is a sort of last resort tool, available only in very specific circumstances with the approval of the Director of Contracts, since it implies that a contract may be awarded without prior publication, such as in cases of extreme urgency.
However, industry sources said that it seemed the government was resorting to this exception more often in order to dish out contracts directly, instead of using the procedure only as a last resort.
“The government is increasingly resorting the ‘negotiated procedure’ instead of issuing a new tender when none of the bidders meet the requested requirements,” the sources pointed out.
According to statistics, since 2013 the Finance Ministry gave an average of two approvals a year for such procedure to be used.
Government resorting to this exception more often to dish out contracts directly
However, in 2018 alone, Prof. Scicluna approved the use of this procedure for seven tenders.
However, eyebrows were raised even sharper last February when the minister gave the green light for the Director of Contracts to negotiate directly with bidders for a €23 million contract to build a new underpass at the Tarxien/Santa Luċija roundabout.
The original tender issued for this mega road project was cancelled by the Department of Contracts after it was found that the evaluation board set up by the government had mistakenly awarded the contract, even though none of the companies’ competing had satisfied all the criteria.
However, the government did not issue a new offer, as is usually done in such a competitive tender and instead is using the negotiated procedure to award the lucrative contract to one of the same bidders who had failed to meet the original requirements.
Government sources said that this latest approval by the Finance Minister was the largest ‘negotiated procedure’ ever approved by the government.
The award of this tender is still being ‘negotiated’ by the Department of Contracts and Infrastructure Malta, the government road building agency responsible for the public contract.
Apart from this procedure, the Finance Ministry is also tasked with approving direct orders given to various companies and individuals without the issue of a competitive tender.
Despite strict rules that direct orders have to be limited in scope and value, the current administration is granting many direct orders every year.
This has been already highlighted in various reports issued by the National Audit Office.
EUSTATIUS--Government Commissioner of St. Eustatius Marcolino “Mike” Franco said a new tender was launched recently for reconstruction of Jeems Road.
Under the former, ousted Island government, the contract had been awarded to two local contractors. Franco stated that the Public Entity had to open a new tender project, but added that the two local contractors are also able to make their bid.
“The tender is a completely new open tender and the government hopes that a lot of local contractors inscribe to that tender,” Franco added.
Franco stated that the Public Entity is busy reorganizing the civil servants’ corps. “What we had before was a template in which during 10-10-10 a public entity such as St. Eustatius would have measures put in place. Now we are nine years later and we have knowledge of what works and what does not work here,” Franco said.
Therefore, the reorganization is not a template that has been forced from above, but a joint venture in which the unit managers are participating to indicate what would be ideal for their organization.
“With those results, we built up a new template which has to be followed accordingly…At this moment, there are a lot of people at functions in government who are functioning well, but these same persons have not been officially appointed to those positions,” said Franco.
These persons have to reapply for them to be officially appointed to the positions in question, “and that is what is happening at this moment,” Franco said.
On whether the current Government Administration Building, – formerly known as the Governor’s Mansion – would be demolished, Franco stated that the demolition of the building depends on whether engineers verify that a two-story building can be built in that location, as all that land is government-owned. The engineers will also be looking at the area behind telecommunications company Eutel, across from Gwendoline van Putten School (GvP).
It is the idea to build one central government building in which all departments of the Public Entity and of Government Department Caribbean Netherlands RCN are to be located. Residents would then be able to go to one building, instead of having to visit various locations.
“This is not a completely new idea,” said Franco. “This new building would have been at the land next to St. Eustatius Utility Company STUCO, but it was shelved because persons wanted a more central location for the building.”
Building at that location would depend on the reconstruction of GvP School. “If the location is found to be suitable, then yes, we will demolish the government administration building,” Franco said.
The contracts of the government Commissioners are to expire by February 2020, as their contracts, which started in February 2018, are for a period of two years.
Asked whether there would be an extension of the two-year period, Franco said, “It is too soon to say, because my plan is to finish my job within two years. I do understand that a large group of Statians want to see elections, an elected Island government with a newly appointed Governor, and I do respect that. As State Secretary [of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations – Ed.] Raymond Knops said in the beginning, ’We will stay as long as necessary, but as short as possible,’” Franco said.
The Government of Karnataka proposes a long network of elevated traffic corridors, totalling close to 90 kilometres in length, to alleviate congestion in Bengaluru, and recently floated a tender for the first phase of the project. This tender, and subsequent ones to follow, are on the basis of a detailed feasibility report commissioned by Karnataka Road Development Corporation and prepared by a trio of private consultants engaged for the purpose.
The report only mentions the construction cost of the project, which is over Rs. 19,000 crores. There have been press reports that claim once land acquisition and other costs are factored in, the total project cost could be close to Rs. 30,000 crores or more. This is an enormous sum of money, and one would assume that whoever proposes spending such a huge sum would exercise due diligence and enormous care to ensure that all aspects that warrant inclusion in the evaluation have been carefully considered. There is legitimate cause for concern when such proposals overlook many basic fundamental aspects.
Systemic concerns over the Elevated Corridor proposal
The focus here is not to comment so much on the proposal for the elevated corridor project, but to reflect on the quality of urban governance and planning if a proposal to spend thousands of crores can be put forward without detailed evaluation of issues such as those listed below.
Vision for the City
Cities cannot be reduced to quantitative or technical problems to be solved. They are sites of creativity that form the cutting edge of an economy: even though less than 35% of India’s population is urban, over 60% of her GDP comes from urban areas. Cities are dynamic cultural entities where the way people come together affects the vibrancy of the culture, economy and politics that take shape within the city.
Jane Jacobs, the eminent thinker on cities, had proposed that cities are truly vibrant when they have a buzz of pedestrians moving about at all times. Such cities are also far safer due to more ‘eyes on the street’. This will not happen by accident: it first requires a vision on the quality of life we want for the city, and then an urban design and planning strategy that works out the spatial form that will catalyse this quality of life. Clearly, a large network of megastructures of elevated corridors, casting huge shadows and spewing noise and pollution which will drive away certain land-uses, is not conducive to a vibrant pedestrian life. While some elevated transit structures may be unavoidable, they must always be evaluated and shaped by an overall urban vision. This proposal makes no such attempt.
The Institutional Framework for Urban Planning
The 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India came into effect in 1992 with the aim of granting recognition and autonomy to urban governance so that each municipality can function as a “vibrant democratic unit of self-government.” It stipulates that planning for a city the size of Bengaluru be undertaken only by a Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC), which should draw at least two-thirds of its strength from elected members of the municipality – a provision that aims to subject urban planning to democratic oversight within the municipality.
Bengaluru has been poor in conforming to this constitutional requirement. It constituted the MPC over twenty years after the amendment was enacted and bypassed the ‘self-government’ intent by granting chairmanship of the MPC to the Chief Minister of the state. The amendment is silent on how the MPC should develop the institutional capacity to perform urban planning, but it could be assumed that this capacity will be developed through building a qualified secretariat and an empanelled set of professional consultants. Bengaluru has not pushed the MPC in this direction, choosing to delegate all planning to the parastatal organisation that has conducted it so far: the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). Delegation to a parastatal is another diversion from the intent of empowering municipal self-government that the spirit of the 74th Amendment calls for (and it is significant to note that the project report for the elevated corridor project has been commissioned by another parastatal, and not by the BDA).
There is currently a public interest litigation being heard in the Karnataka High Court challenging this failure in conformance to the Constitution. In the course of this hearing, the court observed that the elevated corridor project has not been undertaken within the legally mandated institutional framework for urban planning and directed the government to cancel the tender floated for the first phase of construction of the project.
The project has also not followed the mandated procedure for public consultations on major development projects stipulated in the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act.
The Typology of Road Networks
Road networks cannot be evaluated solely with linear logic. Roads belong to a category of what philosophers have called ‘polycentric problems’, which means that any problem cannot be isolated to one spot in the network. The metaphor that best explains this is the spider’s web: one may tweak the tension in one single strand of the web, but this action and its results cannot be confined to the point of intervention. A change in tension in any single strand results in a redistribution of tension in the entire web.
In India, we have tended to view interventions in road networks as ‘monocentric’ problems, where we can isolate the problem and its solution to a single spot. For example, we observe congestion at a specific road junction and come up with the knee-jerk solution of a flyover at that junction to resolve congestion. We may find that after constructing that flyover we no longer see congestion at that junction and therefore believe our intervention to be successful. However, there may be another junction a few kilometres downstream of the traffic flow which, before the flyover was constructed, received a volume of ‘x’vehicles per minute and was able to handle this volume successfully. Once the upstream congestion is resolved, this junction now receives ‘3x’vehicles per minute, and it becomes congested. The flyover did not eliminate congestion: it merely redistributed it.
The elevated corridor cannot be seen as an isolated project and must be viewed in terms of the overall architecture of the road network. The corridors have a series of entry and exit ramps, and the impact these ramps have on the underlying road structure is insufficiently evaluated. Ashish Verma, Associate Professor of Transportation Systems Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, predicts that these interfaces will cause fifty-three new spots of congestion in the city.
One has to look at the network as a whole, and particularly its typology and how one may alter it. Bengaluru has an overly radial pattern of roads, which overloads the city centre and causes a level of congestion that spreads outwards, with spill over impacts in peripheral areas. The strategy should be to relieve traffic flows from the restrictions of this radial emphasis through new concentric connections. This can be achieved through a mix of new roads (such as the proposed peripheral ring road) and modification and reclassification of existing roads. A case study that achieved this is Washington DC which in the late 1960s constructed a circumferential highway called the Capital Beltway. This was supplemented with area development plans that coordinated land-uses and secondary roads along this highway, resulting in a shift of commuting patterns so that the number of commuters moving concentrically far outnumbered those moving radially.
The elevated corridor project makes insufficient attempt to tackle the overall typology of Bengaluru’s road network, and to view it as a polycentric challenge.
It is falsely assumed that the only cause of traffic congestion is because of an overload of volume. This is not true in India, where a substantial degree of congestion results from turbulence in traffic flows caused by uneven road design standards. Imagine a water pipe whose width changed every few feet. Clearly water would not flow efficiently in such a pipe, and if one found a trickle upon opening the tap at the other end, this would be a result of turbulence in the system and may not be due to the average pipe diameter being too small for the desired flow rate.
We do not have consistent widths or standardised turn curvatures in the roads of Bengaluru (and most Indian cities), and the consequent turbulence is a significant cause of congestion. The relative role that turbulence and volume play in causing congestion is inadequately studied, but it should be noted that the project report justifies the proposal on elevated corridors by looking at congestion solely from the perspective of traffic volumes, making no attempt to comprehend the impact of turbulence in the system. Strategies to resolve turbulence require reclassification and modification of existing roads rather than adding new roads, and if turbulence is effectively dealt with, then the quantum of demand for new road space would come down drastically.
The fact that a reduction in turbulence can have an impact is proven by the TenderSure project implemented in the centre of Bengaluru. When the project was first proposed, doomsayers predicted that it would completely clog the city core, for traffic volumes were high and the proposal called for a reduction of traffic corridor widths in order to grant more space to pedestrians. But this never happened: despite reduced widths traffic continued to flow, for the project reduced turbulence through implementing systematic road standards.
Mixed-Mode Transport Strategies
The Government of India has developed a National Urban Transport Policy (NUTP) that is published on the website of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. This document is offered as a baseline policy standard that can guide the development of transport strategies in every city. The document is acknowledged as a resource on the website of the Directorate of Urban Land Transport, Urban Development Department, Government of Karnataka.
One of the key objectives of the NUTP is to ensure that transport plans seek to serve the entire population and are not disproportionately oriented toward elite constituencies. A prime means of doing this is to aim at an allocation of road space on the basis of people rather than vehicles. This is not the current situation where buses carry far more daily passenger trips than private motorised vehicles, yet private vehicles occupy over 80% of the road space whereas buses occupy less than 5% (with this proportion falling further during peak hour traffic). Clearly a resolution of the transport problem can only be solved by a shift of prevailing modes from private to public transport. As the old adage goes, “A developed country is not one where everyone owns a car, but one where even the well-to-do use public transport.”
A strategy that seeks to primarily serve private vehicles is an elitist strategy as it serves only the upper economic segments of the population. The project report on elevated corridors continues this elitism by making all assessments of traffic volume using the measure of Passenger Car Units (PCU). All vehicles types are converted into PCU equivalents, and the comparative effectiveness of different transport modes is lost in the analysis.
If the goal of the NUTP of allocating road space on the basis of people rather than vehicles is to be achieved, then all transport proposals should occur within the context of a comprehensive strategy that examines all modes of transport, with an emphasis on public transit. The project report acknowledges that all modes of transport should be coordinated with the elevated corridors, but only recognises this at a general level and goes into the detailed calculations and designs for the elevated corridors without similarly detailed assessment on other modes and the relative weights to be assigned to each mode of transport. If a comprehensive policy analysis of all modes of transport were done in advance, the entire proposal for the elevated corridors would probably need substantial modification.
Given that the detailed designs on elevated corridors were rushed into the tendering stage, it appears that by the time any comprehensive multi-mode policy was evolved, the construction of these elevated corridors would be locked into place as a fait accompli, along with the concomitant distortions in the relative weightage of public versus private transport modes.
Land-Use and Transit
Urban transport cannot be looked at in isolation for it bears a strong connection with land-use. For example, a single-use zoning policy where every parcel of land can only be used for a single designated purpose (whether residential or commercial) will entail greater average distances between work and home when compared to a mixed-use zoning policy where a neighbourhood contains a judicious mix of residential and commercial uses. This is not to recommend that we only follow a mixed-use policy, but to make the point that the land-use strategy adopted can have a significant impact on loads on the transit system.
This is why transport design should always form a part of comprehensive master planning. The current proposal on elevated corridors has been done as a separate exercise disconnected from the preparation of the comprehensive development plan. The government did announce that the proposal will be incorporated into the new master plan for Bengaluru, but this will wind up as mere juxtaposition of the two: a superficial attempt at post-facto validation, which is a very different scenario from designing the proposal in simultaneous consonance with the master plan. The ‘rubber stamp’ intention is reflected in the decision to launch tenders for the first phase while the new master plan is yet to be finalised and released in the public domain.
Clearly, a strategy of responding to traffic congestion by increasing road space is bound to hit a point of diminishing returns. Traffic volumes will only increase, and the rate of yearly increase has gone up sharply in recent years. If we add road space for use of private vehicles, we incentivise the use of these vehicles and increase the rate at which traffic load is piled onto the road network. If our only strategic choice is to periodically increase road widths, we will either wind up with a city where roads take up so much space that building is no longer feasible or a dystopia where we are all condemned to live under the bleak shadow of elevated roads.
We have to move to a strategy that attempts a radical shift in the mix of modes of transport to avoid hitting these capacity limits. The elevated corridor project reflects a continuation of the old strategy of only increasing road space and makes no attempt to define where the point of diminishing returns may lie. In the 1960’s the German mathematician Dietrich Braess postulated in a theorem, subsequently named the Braess Paradox, that road systems can behave in funny ways. We tend to assume that increasing road space will lead to improved traffic flow, but it may paradoxically lead to an increase in average journey time. The project report does not name the Braess Paradox, but obliquely recognises it by acknowledging that the elevated corridors may incentivise road usage. While it asserts that many parts of the proposed system will serve traffic volumes beyond 2037, it surprisingly acknowledges that certain segments of the system will touch peak capacity by the base year of 2023. What happens after that, and the impact on the rest of the system, does not receive much attention.
Environment Impact and Approvals
The proposal will have a substantive environmental impact. It will not only change the look and feel of a major portion of the city but could have other significant impacts given that over 3700 trees need to be cut or transplanted, and some segments of the elevated corridors intervene into the area of existing lakes and heritage structures. The project report recognises that given the corridors are structures and not just roads they do have to undergo a stipulated process of statutory environmental approvals. The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority has very recently granted approval to the terms of reference of the project: the first stage in the environmental approval process. The details of how environmental impact is measured and mitigated is not publicly known as yet.
Tolls and Financial Viability
The financial viability of the project rests on collecting tolls for usage of the elevated corridors. But implementing this is not easy. The standard design solution for doing this is to construct toll plazas at the entrance into the toll corridor: in this case at the base of the entry and exit ramps to the elevated corridors. But in this project these highways are being inserted into densely built metropolitan areas, space is not available for toll plazas, and the report acknowledges that constructing toll plazas is not an available option. The alternative strategy is glossed over in a single line that states “toll collection by ERP is recommended.” This strategy is not explained, and its feasibility is not examined in the report. If an unorthodox strategy that avoids toll plazas turns out to be difficult to implement, tolls cannot be collected, and the entire financial viability of the project is thrown into question. There have been some statements made by the government that tolls will not be charged, but this is not yet confirmed, and if true the ultimate financial cost and how it will be managed is yet to be publicly disclosed.
Highway Shoulders and Resilience in Traffic Flow
The design of highways in India follows guidelines established by the Indian Roads Congress (IRC). These standards call for every highway to have a shoulder: a buffer space between the outer edge of the outer traffic lane and the boundary of the highway. Shoulders are not used on a routine basis. They provide the space for vehicles that need to pull over in case they are disabled or are involved in a fender-bender accident and need to stop to sort things out. Once this buffer space is available, such vehicles can stop without significantly affecting smooth traffic flow. Shoulders are also meant to provide a space where emergency vehicles (tow trucks, ambulances, fire tenders) can move to reach where needed. Shoulders build resilience into the continuity of traffic flow.
The project report on elevated corridors seeks to follow IRC standards, but notes one significant exception: due to the constraints on space within a metropolitan area, shoulders have been largely omitted. The impact of this decision on the resilience of the system is not studied.
The points noted above have come from a quick review of the elevated corridor proposal. A detailed study by people with greater expertise in the subject may yield even more. The point to be noted is that substantive lacunae can be observed even in a quick reading, and this is possible for a project that seeks to spend thousands of crores, which will have a substantive impact on the look and feel of the city, where it was sought to release tenders for the first phase in a tremendous hurry.
This is a symbol of the poor institutional capacity we have built in India for urban planning and governance. This is even more important at this point in history, for we are in India’s urban century where for the first time in history we will have a majority urban population (projected to happen around the middle of this century). The future of the country depends on the depth and creativity with which we imagine the Indian city, and Bengaluru’s elevated corridor project is not an encouraging sign.
Prem Chandavarkar is a practicing architect and blogger on architecture, urbanism, politics, philosophy, culture and education.
End tender fight for road projectTHURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2019 19:48We don’t need litigation. We badly need that road. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Two international investors are engaged in what promises to be an explosive battle over the lucrative $1 billion contract for building of the 175 kilometre Nairobi-Nakuru- Mau Summit Highway under the so called Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal.
On one corner of the ring is a consortium led by French group Vinci Meridian and on the other a consortium led by a Portuguese group that also includes French players, dubbed Rift Valley Connect (RVC).
Already, RVC- on being informed that the Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has decided to give the contract to their competitors - has moved to lodge a complaint with the Public Private Partnership Petition Committee, the entity that listens to grievances lodged by parties who feel cheated.
It is not a good sign at all because this matter may drag in litigation and contestation for months. If I were asked to mention the greatest drawback to implementation of PPP projects in Kenya I would say delays from unending litigation.
The situation has been made worse by inbuilt weaknesses in a procurement regime and system that puts too much emphasis on too many inane rules, procedures, documentation and notices.
With the emphasis on process, rather than bigger issue of public interest such as value for money and the fact that we badly need a new road through the most important transport corridor in East Africa, it is very easy for the contracting authority or even the competing contractors to commit slip ups and lapses in the interpretation of rules.
Instructively, the major cause in the current dispute is a mundane disagreement over the interpretation of income tax laws.
That since both consortia - in preparing their financial bids- contravened the Income Tax Act of Kenya, the two bids should have been rejected. I do not want to discuss the merits or demerits of the matter because the issue is now before a tribunal.
But there are broader policy questions that this dispute raises. If you asked me, I will tell you that what I want are PPP procurement systems that work for Kenyans. The present regime was designed so that we spend taxpayers’ money paying the army of consultants that must be hired for these transactions.
And, they come in different shapes. Transaction advisers, PPP specialists and even the big audit firms all queue at the Exchequer’s trough.
I hope that this important project will not be held hostage by unending litigation. Under the present arrangement, the PPP tribunal must dispose of the dispute in 10 days.
In litigious Kenya, it does not work. A good procurement system must deliver speed, finality and cheapness. But we have an arrangement that works like a casino.
When – as a contractor- you lose at the PPP tribunal- you double your stakes and take your case to the High Court. When you lose there, you triple your stakes and escalate the matter to the Court of Appeal. A number of PPP projects have not been able to move after intervention by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission that is also not famous for disposing of matters expeditiously.
If the disappointed contractor still ends up losing in all these players, they have the leeway of sponsoring parliamentary inquiries. In Kenya, some disappointed contractors resort to sponsoring civil society organisations and non- state actors to litigate over procurement matters on their behalf.
One of the very first cases to be heard by the PPP tribunal was a case filed by Kituo Cha Sheria, challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of members of the tribunal. It was no coincidence that this matter came up just as the PPP tribunal was preparing to hear what turned out to be a politically explosive concessioning of the second container terminal at the Mombasa Port.
The Northern Corridor is the busiest and most important highway in East and Central Africa, the gateway from Mombasa to several countries. If I were the one making decisions, I would call the two winning bidders to a conference and see whether they can reach some form of accommodation. We don’t need litigation. We badly need that road.
Government has committed over $1 billion for road construction and rehabilitation with various projects underway across the country under the 2019 Road Development Programme.
Funding for this flagship project, which is the biggest road project in 20 years, is being mobilised from the two percent Intermediated Money Transfer Tax as well as the Zimbabwe National Road Administration Infrastructure Bond, as President Mnangagwa's administration pursues its development trajectory.
According to the 2019 Infrastructure Plan released by Treasury last year, the rehabilitation of the roads through private-public-partnerships has been difficult, hence the switch to seek financing from the domestic market.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza, who is carrying out a nationwide tour to assess progress of the various roadworks, said Government's thrust was to refurbish existing roads and construct new roads which befit an upper middle income economy.
"As we embark on our 2030 vision, which aims to transform Zimbabwe into an upper middle income economy, we must construct roads which befit that status. There is quite a lot of work going on some of the projects which have been pending for a while without work going on," he said.
"We are coming of a recessionary situation. Our roads need to be revamped to a situation where we have a national standard or even SADC standards of roads so that we are able to ply there and do our economic deliverables easily."
The road dualisation programme for State roads and upgrading of gravel roads is in line with Government's Transitional Stabilisation Programme, which outlines that "the road, rail and air sub-sectors are critical in rapid industrialisation and agricultural advancement as they facilitate trade and movement of goods and people, hence, the need to rehabilitate and upgrade the current stock of assets".
The TSP document further states that the comprehensive Roads Development Programme, with support from the fiscus, is targeting upgrades from gravel to bituminous surfacing at an average cost of US$500 000 per kilometre.
The target is to complete 20km for each gravel road every year until completion. Through the fiscus, over US$250 million has been released for roadworks. Minister Matiza said the roads should be done properly and there is need for quality control as Government was not interested in "seeing just black tar".
He said tenders were being drawn up for consultants to come and assist road authorities to ensure that roads can last up to 20 years.
"We are introducing the project management programme in the ministry. As I speak, tenders are being prepared to get other consultants to come and assist provincial road engineers to make sure there is quality in the roads. We know we have challenges of manpower in some areas in terms of experience," he said.
"We have experience out there in the private sector and we want them to participate in this national programme which have seen us doing a lot of work over a short time. Before the coming in of the new dispensation there was no activity taking place but now 1km a day or more." He said the new dispensation was geared to revamping the country's roads. Writing for The Herald last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube said construction was at the heart of Government's agenda.
"Indeed, building is at the heart of our agenda, in particular road building. This essential infrastructure is arguably the most important of all our public assets, contributing to economic development and growth whilst providing access to economic opportunities, employment, health and education services," he said.
"It connects Zimbabweans and levels the playing field. All Zimbabweans have the basic and fundamental right to access healthcare, access markets, and the freedom of movement. Roads, therefore, are key. Drawing from the short-term Transitional Stabilisation Programme, the 2019 Infrastructure Investment Plan, with an allocation of over US$900 million, targets to more than double our investment in the road sector."
He said Government was upgrading 781km of Zimbabwe's road network, re-gravelling 483km and constructing 22 bridges. Minister Ncube said each of the targeted roads has been identified including specific works for the year, which provides an opportunity for citizens to monitor progress in implementing planned works.
The District Development Fund is gravelling and regrading at least three feeder roads per province, while urban and rural local authorities are up-scaling the road rehabilitation exercise for roads under their purview.
The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has earmarked QR18.8bn for 55 new roads and infrastructure projects in new and existing subdivisions for 2019, it was announced at a seminar held in Doha Wednesday. Ashghal president Dr Saad bin Ahmad al-Muhannadi made the announcement before construction industry stakeholders and companies at the authority’s ‘3rd Industry Briefing on Ashghal’s Current and Upcoming Infrastructure Projects in New and Existing Subdivisions’.
During the seminar, Ashghal presented the local roads and drainage projects that will be tendered this year, in addition to projects that are currently under construction.
The event was attended by stakeholders and companies in Qatar's construction industry. Dr al-Muhannadi said Ashghal’s plan for 2019 is based on HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa al-Thani’s directives, “which emphasise the need to focus on the infrastructure projects in new and existing subdivisions and to complete them on time with the required quality.”
Of the 55 new projects, 32 are residential area projects worth QR15.8bn for over 22,000 plots (10 in tender and 22 to be tendered), according to Roads Projects Department manager, Saoud al-Tamimi. Al-Tamimi added that the remaining projects are 23 Roads Improvement Works (RIWs) worth QR3bn, of which eight are in the tender stage and 15 are to be tendered.
He also said Ashghal has allotted QR9.1bn for 36 subdivisions projects under construction this year, of which 14 are in residential areas serving over 16,000 plots worth QR6.5bn in 10 areas, including south Al Wukair, Al Kharaitiyat, Izghawa, Al Ebb, Leabaib, Al Foroush, North Al Nasiriyah, West Al Mashaf, and Muaither, while 22 are RIW projects with a value of QR2.6bn.
From 2017, Ashghal focused on infrastructure projects in existing and new subdivisions across the country, and delivered 15 projects in 2017 and 2018 in 11 residential areas, including Al Wakra West, Rawdat Al Hamama, Al Mashaf East, and Al Wukair North, in addition to road and drainage projects. The projects implemented in 2018 served about 3,900 subdivisions comprising road works of about 175km and 290km of pedestrian and cycle paths, as well as more than 125km of drainage networks and storm water network with a length of more than 285km.
Mutorwa concerned over road projects delaysNews - National | 2019-02-27Page no: 1by Sakeus Iikela
WORKS minister John Mutorwa is concerned over unnecessary delays in implementing national road projects, including tenders worth more than N$1,4 billion.
Mutorwa told the Roads Authority (RA) in a letter sent to chief executive Conrad Lutombi on 14 February 2019 to avoid bureaucratic bottlenecks that were delaying the implementation of road projects.
He was responding to Lutombi's letter sent on 14 February 2019, in which the RA CEO explained the issues that are delaying the implementation of two prioritised road projects under the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
The projects in question include the last phase of the Windhoek-Okahandja road, which is 21 kilometres and requires N$1 billion, and the last eight-kilometre part of the Swakopmund-Walvis Bay road that needs N$435 million to complete.
In the letter, Lutombi said the two tenders for these projects were not advertised because they had asked the ministry to exempt the two projects from the “general government moratorium, which stipulates that no new government project should be commenced without the necessary approval”.
Only after that permission was granted would the tenders be advertised for bids, as per the Public Procurement Act, he said.
When approached for clarity on Monday, Lutombi said they requested permission to start the new projects to avoid perceptions that they were doing things under the carpet.
He said the two projects will thus be advertised after they get permission.
In his letter, Mutorwa said he is expected to report to Cabinet on progress made on road projects in all 14 regions, based not only on “glossy narrative reports, but concretely and visibly indicating the actual projects that were successfully and practically implemented”.
The minister said on Monday that the moratorium referred to by Lutombi does not exist, hence his advice to the RA to avoid unnecessary delays.
“I don't even know what you are talking about. This issue was discussed on Friday [last week], and I advised them as per my notes on the letter that was sent to them,” he stated.
The Namibian reported last year that the RA wanted to give the contractors on site extensions to work on the extra kilometres to avoid advertising the tenders.
Lutombi at the time argued that the projects would be delayed, and it would cost the government more money if the contracts are re-advertised.
According to him, extending the contracts of the companies currently on site would be cheaper, and save up to N$251 million.
This move was, however, blocked by the Central Procurement Board, which ordered the parastatal to advertise the tenders.
Works executive director Willem Goeiemann yesterday said although proposals were submitted to the government on how to handle the new tenders for these projects, a final decision was yet to be made.
He said the ministry was still busy with consultations, which include options on whether or not to advertise the new tenders.
The spokesperson of the works ministry, Julius Ngweda, confirmed to The Namibian that the parties were still divided on this matter, but the ministry wants the tenders to be advertised.
“They (RA) wanted to proceed with the companies already on site. But when we looked at the amount, we saw that it would not work, and it would also not be in compliance with the Procurement Act.
“The ministry wants the tenders to be advertised because there are people who wanted things to be done under the carpet. The current minister wants things to be done procedurally,” he stated.
THE Roads Authority has appealed for an urgent government bailout after complaining that their budget for national road projects this year is short by N$1,3 billion.
Roads Authority (RA) chief executive officer Conrad Lutombi made this appeal in a letter to the transport ministry's executive director, Willem Goeiemann, on Monday.
Even though Lutombi downplayed the crisis by claiming that the state roads agency has secured funding and will start paying as from today, his letter paints a picture of a desperate man.
In the wake of Lutombi's letter, finance minister Calle Schlettwein confirmed that he will hold a crisis meeting today with top government officials to discuss whether the state will pay N$500 million owed to the road construction companies.
Lutombi told Goeiemann that the Roads Authority currently faces a serious problem because of the government's failure to pay road contractors and consultants.
“This dire state of affairs is posting a huge financial and reputational risk to the government and the Roads Authority. All but one Roads Authority contractor have suspended works primarily due to the lack of funds to buy required supplies and construction material needed for the ongoing construction works,” Lutombi explained.
He said the challenge of the lack of funds to pay outstanding invoices could be attributed to the reduced Roads Authority budget.
The Roads Authority initially proposed a N$2,5 billion budget for the 2018/19 financial year to fund the ongoing roads projects.
“However, only an amount of N$1,2 million was made available. This resulted in a shortfall/underfunding of N$1,3 billion,” Lutombi added.
He said to make matters worse, the national budget review in October last year reduced the transport sector's budget by N$344 million, which added pressure on the availability of funds.
“The dire consequences of the continued non-payment of invoices means that both the government and the Roads Authority are in default of contractual obligations,” he stated.
The chief executive said unless all outstanding invoices are fully paid, the government and the Roads Authority are obliged to pay for idle equipment and site fees for no work done until work restarts.
“The current daily compounded losses due to the suspension of work as a result of invoices will translate into millions of dollars, estimated to be ranging between N$15 million and N$30 million per month per project, depending on the size,” he continued.
A senior official involved in the payments talks said some companies had not been paid since September or October last year, forcing some of them to stop work.
The Roads Authority has been knocking on Schlettwein's door, asking for N$500 million to pay for several roads projects.
A person familiar with this matter said the Roads Authority wanted Schlettwein to approve a plan to borrow N$500 million from Standard Bank to fund the projects.
The loan was supposed to be taken out by the state-owned Road Fund Administration, but the finance minister blocked it, saying there was need for more consultations.
“The matter was brought to me, and I have referred it back for further consultations,” Schlettwein told The Namibian on Wednesday.
“To commit to significant payments that are not funded under the budget needs careful and thorough investigations. That is what I have instructed involved stakeholders to do and come back with comprehensive information,” he said.
Schlettwein said a solution could be found today when he meets officials and parastatal bosses to discuss the outstanding payments.
Today's meeting follows another meeting held at State House, where road parastatal chiefs tried to convince the government's top leadership to pay the companies.
According to Schlettwein, “the minister of finance cannot just be confronted with an invoice from a parastatal [Roads Authority]. Some procedures need to be followed,” he stressed.
Transport ministry officials believe that the road projects could cost as high as N$800 million by the end of next month if the outstanding amounts are not paid since the companies are charging interest on unpaid amounts and standing fees.
“We must avoid unnecessary penalties, but I cannot just commit to paying things that are not budgeted for,” Schlettwein said.
Sources said finance officials fumed about the N$500 million loan proposal, to the extent that one of them allegedly tossed away the documents outlining this plan and shouted: “We did not create this mess” during a recent meeting.
Schlettwein has for years criticised the Roads Authority for committing the government to contracts of more than N$2 billion without following procedures and claiming that they were made a priority by “the highest offices”.
Lutombi told The Namibian on Tuesday that they are consulting the government to fast-track the payments.
“The RA is not at liberty to reveal the amount of money owed to contractors for work done on the road projects. However, we can confirm that we do have outstanding invoices on some of our projects,” he said.
Lutombi added that the parastatal engaged affected consultants and contractors about the lack of payments.
“I can confirm that we have managed to settle some outstanding invoices on our government-funded capital projects in the past few weeks, for example the Windhoek-Hosea Kutako International Airport road upgrade. Works on this project are progressing well,” he said.
Confidénte reported yesterday that the government owes five companies around N$98 million.
This includes the N$25 million owed to the joint venture between Italian civil construction CMC and Otesa for the Windhoek-Okahandja two-way road, and the N$22 million owed to Unik/Thohi for the Swakopmund-Walvis Bay dual carriageway.
According to the newspaper, Nexus is owed N$28 million for the Isize-Luhonono road in the Zambezi region.
Chinese firm Zhong Mei is allegedly owed N$18,8 million for the ongoing work on the Swakopmund-Henties Bay road.
Knowing the Current Road Development in Nagaland: Who brought it? February 16, 2019 Dr. Lemwang Chuhwanglim (Ph.D)
Mon Town, Nagaland
The article is an overview analysis of the root cause of the current road development in Nagaland based on the question: who worked hard for the dream of road making materialization in Nagaland? Subsequently, it aims to facilitate a dialogue between a political leader like T.R. Zeliang and the common people. Zeliang fearlessly and strongly states that the current road development in the State is the repercussions of the effort and hard work sacrificed by him and his colleagues during their party power in Nagaland. It helps the Naga people to engage in questioning and knowing the leaders who work hard for the current road development in the Naga society. The author believes in knowing and sharing the concealed hard work of every leader and citizen who works for the welfare of the Naga society based on humanity in need, than political enmity.
Poor road has kept the entire Naga territories to backward land and the people in the planet. It exists as a result of poor leaders and poor followers, not poor land and poor economy. Insufficiency emerges from the unlimited wants of the leaders, not from fewer needs. Despite the contended budget that India gives for the development and management of Nagaland, its repercussions remain a poor managed Nation every year. In the midst of the darkest way of lives of the Nagas, more specific, in road development, which is the primary route to the subsistence of the Naga people, there is a leader like T.R.Zeliang, who is worth acknowledging based on his fearless statement that ‘he worked yesterday for a good road today and tomorrow’ in Nagaland.
Good road produces sustainable future (Edward R. Carr. 2011), it promulgates the global economy through the feasible engagement of the people in maximizing own income and well-being through good road. However, Nagas remain behind the global development in the shadow of poor road. It had ruined the entire life existence of the predominant Nagas who face hardship to engage in import and export of any own products in villages and towns. Such men-made famine of road produced poor economy and the poorest Nation. The deprivation of basic development in the state provoked a leader like T.R.Zeliang and his fellow leaders, to willingly work hard for the proposal and approval of the budget sanctioned for the current road development in different parts of Nagaland, during his leadership.
According to Zeliang, “On the achievement of road sectors”, the current road development from Dimapur to Kohima (4 lane road), Peren-Maram 2 lane road, were approved in 2004-2005 which was included under SARDP-NE (Phase-A). Despite the problem emerged between the State Government and MoRTH in the issue of its implementation, which the State opted for local tendering system different from MoRTH’s EPC process based on the National Highway’s rule, it was during his leadership as the Chief Minister of Nagaland, under NPF led Dan Government, the reinforcement implementation of the project was finally approved in 2015-2016, followed by the appointment of NHIDCL which tendered the process under EPC mode where ECI and Gayatri, were qualified. Subsequently, they agreed on completing the Dimapur-Kohima 4 lane road in 3 years (2017-2018, 2018-2019, 2019-2020). In the presence of Zeliang, the two functionaries assured to complete the project in 3 years and the road would remain under their maintenance for the following 4 years for which they would bear their own cost.
The Honorable Minister of MoRTH laid the foundation stone of the said project on 3rd November 2016. In addition, Zeliang and his team submitted the Memorandum to the Minister for upgrading the city roads of Kohima and Dimapur. Marking the memorandum as the prioritized needs of the people of the State, the centre ultimately approved and sanctioned the following roads within a year of 2016-2017: 1. Amar Mill-Zion Hospital junction, 2 Land Road, 2. Zion-junction Purana Bazar-Chumukedima Patkai Bridge, 4 Land Road, 3. Dimapur City-by pass Road (Khatkati-Patkai) 4 Land Road, 4. Dimapur Kohima by-pass Road, Nuiland-Zhadima, 5. Kohima City Road (New Check Gate-Lerie) 2 Land Road which was “sanctioned and contract work allotted in 2017”, 6. Kohima City by-pass Road, Jotsoma junction to Kisama via New Secretariat BSF Camp was approved in 2015-2016 with tender floated on 4th February 2019.. Most significantly, including the Jalukie and Kohima road that was approved within Six month, the entire roads projects mentioned above were submitted during the visit of Sh.Nitin Gadkari, Minister of MoRTH, to Dimapur. Many of the approved roads are currently in the progressive journey to complete at the earliest to bring a better future subsistence of the Indigenous Nagas that liberates them from the shadow of poor roads for the past more than 70 years.
The primary source of the article indicates that the current roads development in Nagaland is the ground work implemented and well prepared laid by the previous DAN-III NPF led Government under the leadership of Zeliang, which marked as the collaborative team work of the senior party leaders of his government. This achievement has to reach the entire Nagas to know that, as a leader with leaders, Zeliang with his colleagues had been committed to work for the welfare of the common Nagas regardless of any regions in the State. Despite the emergences of numerous differences in ideas and other approaches within the party leaders, who come from different tribes and regions, down the line, they had undeniably done the works in unity to make good roads in the State to reach many villages and towns with good economy and development for the better survival of the common people. Deliberate
“We always say record will speak but unless we explain to the people in appropriate platforms, the general public will not understand” (Zeliang. 2019), if such statement and the record have the authenticity to convince the common Nagas, there should be no delay to find the right platforms to deliberately impart the knowledge of true work done for the people. Moreover, if such report is inevitably true before the eyes of God and fellow human beings, people have the right to acknowledge and support leader/s who genuinely works for the development of roads and other means to develop ourselves and our State and to grow together as hardworking leaders and followers of the State. It is important that every leader must carry the transparency of leadership responsibilities and its implementation, with the common people both in times of power and powerless stage to earn timeless trust from the citizens. The author encourages that such analytical view would help many citizens to further search and learns the truth behind every word and deed of the Naga leaders, and support those who speak and do the truth but condemn those who are found wrong.
Mt Kenya leaders, locals differ on pace of Ruto projectsSUNDAY JANUARY 13 2019
This image taken on January 9, 2019 shows a section of Mwiyogo-Endarasha road in Nyeri whose construction was launched by Deputy President William Ruto last year. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Residents said contractors were dragging their feet despite a promise that the roads would be completed in one year.
The 43km Marua-Kiamariga road that leads to the State Lodge is among the highways that will be tarmacked in the current financial year.
Slow implementation of projects launched by Deputy President William Ruto in his tours of Mt Kenya has angered residents.
Following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement in Mombasa criticising Mt Kenya leaders for accusing him of neglecting the region, focus has shifted to the projects launched by his deputy over the last one year.
On New Year’s Eve, Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria accused the President of sidelining Central Kenya despite the region supporting him in elections.
Mr Kuria has since backtracked, claiming his comments were misinterpreted.
However, his Bahati counterpart Kimani Ngunjiri is unapologetic, saying the President has failed.
A spot check by the Nation revealed that most of the projects launched by Dr Ruto in the region have started but with hardly any activities on the ground.
In Nyeri, most of the road projects are ongoing albeit at a very slow pace.
Residents are worried that the projects may stall if their leaders fail to pile pressure on the national government.
In Kieni alone, Dr Ruto launched three road projects worth Sh4.4 billion: the first two in February and the third one in October.
Residents said contractors were dragging their feet despite a promise that the roads would be completed in one year.
“The contractors are not consistent when undertaking some of these projects. Sometimes they can go away for two months and we are left wondering whether these roads will ever be completed,” Mr Samuel Muriuki said.
For instance, the contractor working on the 13km Kanyagia-Endarasha road is on site but very little activity is going on.
Casual labourers are digging up trenches on the side of the road while the machinery is lying idle at Endarasha shopping centre.
However, area MP Kanini Kega said the contractor had been given nine months to complete the job, refuting claims that it was behind schedule.
“Work is on course in all the road projects and none of them has stalled. I cannot complain about the pace of implementation,” he said.
Mr Kega lashed out at those claiming Dr Ruto launched ‘ghost’ projects, saying his constituents are contented with the work the Jubilee administration is doing.
Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua defended the Jubilee government's development record.
He cited an advertisement by a road agency for the tarmacking of two roads in his area that will cost Sh3 billion.
The Kenya Rural Roads Authority on Thursday announced three tenders for the tarmacking of roads in Nyeri and Migori counties.
The 43km Marua-Kiamariga road that leads to the State Lodge is among the highways that will be tarmacked in the current financial year.
Mr Gachagua said this was evidence that his constituency had not been sidelined in development.
“I cannot speak about development in the Mt Kenya region because I was not elected there and cannot pretend to know what takes place in the region. I only know about Mathira where I am elected, and it’s the only place that concerns me,” he said.
On January 12 last year, while attending a funeral in Kiambu, Dr Ruto announced that the Jubilee administration would in the 2018/2019 financial year allocate Sh800 million to rehabilitate the Marige-Gathiru-ini road, which he had used to get to the burial venue.
However, five months to the end of the financial year, nothing has happened on the 23km road and the Head of State is yet to launch 50km of link roads in the region as promised by Dr Ruto.
The government, he said, was also working on another Sh17 billion water project dubbed Ruiru Two in Githunguri and two other dams in Kinale, in Lari, and Gatundu South, but no works have started on the ground yet.
Other projects which have been launched in the county are the 47km Uplands-Githunguri-Ruiru road, which is expected to cost Sh4.6 billion, and the 26km Githunguri–Kagwe–Kimende road (Moi Road), whose estimated cost is Sh2.4 billion.
The two projects were commissioned by Dr Ruto in June and September last year respectively.
On the same day Dr Ruto commissioned Moi Road, he also launched Wangige-Nyathuna-Ngecha road that cuts through Kabete and Limuru constituencies.
Works at Uplands-Githunguri-Ruiru road started but have since inexplicably stopped, while at Moi Road and Wangige-Nyathuna-Ngecha road the project is yet to start.
Earthmovers, which were used during the launch, left the site immediately.
“It seems like it was a public relations exercise since close to four months down the line, not even an inch has been excavated and the machines left almost immediately,” Mr James Kioge, a resident of Kagwe who witnessed the launch of Moi Road project, said.
In Meru, Dr Ruto launched the construction of Thangatha dam in Tigania East in August last year with a promise that it will be complete in six months.
A spot check showed that the contractor was on site with excavation works ongoing.
Kirinyaga County residents have also protested against the slow implementation of road projects which were launched by the DP.
Residents said the Njegas-Kianjege and the Ngaru-Gakoigo roads, whose construction Dr Ruto launched, are still in bad shape.
"These are very crucial roads and the contractors who won tenders should stop dragging their feet," Mr Njau Ndegwa said.
Residents urged the DP to act tough on lazy contractors. "For us to benefit, Dr Ruto should not spare the contractors who are not doing their jobs faster," Ms Mary Wangui, another resident, said.
They also observed that the construction of the controversial Sh1.2 billion Kutus-Kiamutugu-Githure road - which Dr Ruto toured last year - had stalled.
A contractor was awarded the tender two years ago but the project halted after only 5km was tarmacked.
Gichugu residents, where the project is located, have threatened to stage a demonstration to protest against the stalling of the project.
Reporting by Eric Wainaina, David Muchui, Grace Gitau and George Munene.