Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Uganda awards Karuma hydropower deal to Chinese firm

Government awards Karuma deal to Chinese firm
The Monitor (Uganda), Sunday, January 27 2013

China International Water & Electric Corporation (CWE) has been awarded
the deal to construct the multi-billion Karuma Hydropower Dam.

This follows two years of protracted legal battles that witnessed
several cancellations, injunctions, investigations and a repeat of the
technical evaluation processes.

The bid was opened on Friday at the Ministry of Energy boardroom in
Kampala. Available information indicates that CWE offered $1.4 billion
(Shs3.4 trillion) for engineering, procurement and construction of the
600MW dam.

Perlite Construction Company Ltd is the other company that had made it
to the final stage. The total project cost is estimated at $2.2 billion
(Shs5.9 trillion).

Eng. Paul Mubiru, the acting permanent secretary, said the project,
rocked by claims of irregularity in the tendering process, is two years
behind schedule.

And even the final stage was not without controversy as Sunday Monitor
learnt that the Inspectorate of Government (IGG) had directed that the
process be halted.

The IGG on Friday wrote to the permanent secretary, citing allegations
that some officials in the ministry had been compromised by one of the
six bidding firms.

The IGG wrote: "It is therefore hereby ordered that the ministry…do halt
any further action in the procurement of a contractor for the Karuma
Hydropower Project, including the award of a contract to the best
evaluated bidder."

'Biased' evaluation
The IGG spokesperson, Ms Ali Munira, told the Sunday Monitor yesterday
that they have "insider information" that the procurement might have
been compromised.

According to the IGG, the results of the re-evaluation ordered by court,
seems biased and could be contrary to procurement principles.

The IGG said the court intervention had not improved the process because
the technical evaluation returned a company that is alleged to have
falsified information in its bid.

The IGG's notice, which the ministry disregarded, is the second halt
order—the first having been issued by the High Court months back. The
court process was disposed of and the ministry went ahead to evaluate
the financial bids before announcing the winner on Friday.

Neither Energy Minister Irene Muloni nor State Minister for Energy Simon
D'Ujanga could be reached on phone.
The Karuma dam, whose 600MW is a key factor to the country's energy
security plans, is almost a year behind schedule after intense lobbying
by politically-connected factions delayed the bidding process.

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