Monday 20 June 2011

Pua: LRT awards show open tenders ‘a sham’

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20 — DAP has ridiculed the Najib administration’s efforts at awarding government contracts through open tenders, citing reports of government intervention in the light rail transit (LRT) extension project worth up to RM890 million.

Publicity chief Tony Pua said today that the government has made “a complete mockery of its open tender exercise” by choosing to spend up to RM280 million extra on the 17km extension to the Kelana Jaya line.
“Unfortunately, the entire exercise has been made a sham... it has in effect wiped out the entire credibility of the Najib administration.

“After attracting some of the top international companies to take part in the tender, they are now finding out that Malaysia will award the party that puts in the higher or highest bid, and not that of the lowest,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

The Malaysian Insider reported last Friday that a finance ministry committee ordered Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd to award the deal to the Hartasuma Sdn Bhd-Bombardier joint-venture, whose RM890 million bid is nearly 50 per cent higher than the lowest bid.

A source had claimed that “all bids are technically the same” but Prasarana had recommended Ingress Corp Bhd-Balfour Beatty Rail Sdn Bhd, which put in a bid of RM610 million, the lowest, against Hartasuma-Bombardier’s bid, which was the highest.

The Singapore Straits Times, citing senior industry executives and government officials close to the tender, reported today that the joint-venture between Colas and CMC Engineering Sdn Bhd would now be awarded the project instead.

This new about-turn, if confirmed, comes ahead of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s official visit to London next month, where he is hoping to meet his British counterpart David Cameron.

Pua today said that since the Finance Ministry headed by Najib already had in mind who to award the deal to “regardless of the tender outcome, the government might as well just scrap the ‘open tender’ show and ‘save’ everyone the trouble.”

He added that despite Putrajaya’s stated intention to award more contracts through open tender, it has continued to hand contracts over directly to companies such as Gamuda-MMC as the “project delivery partner” for the RM50 billion Mass Rapid Transit, Naza TTDI for the RM682 million Matrade International Convention Centre, and 1Malaysia Development Bhd for both the proposed Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD) and the Sungai Besi Airport redevelopment project.

Prasarana is spending some RM7 billion for the extension of both the Kelana Jaya and Ampang LRT rail networks. The Ampang network will be extended by another 17.7km.

The wholly-owned unit of the finance ministry was forced to cave in to pressure from Malay rights groups last month when it revised pre-qualification criteria for several construction packages for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) by allowing joint-ventures or consortiums.

It had on March 30 imposed additional criteria on contractors taking part in the project tender, which disallowed them from forming joint ventures or consortiums.

Perkasa, however, accused Prasarana of blocking Bumiputera contractors from participating by enforcing “strict” guidelines that would only benefited “rich non-Bumis”, saying that project delivery partner MMC-Gamuda was “looting and monopolising” the project.

The MRT is expected to be the largest-ever construction project in Malaysia and had earlier been estimated to cost between RM36 billion and RM53 billion.

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