Saaf Pani initiative gets a clean chit

Updated 30 Oct 2016

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LAHORE: A German consultant company has removed all official objections to the international bidding for the estimated Rs210 billion projects for providing clean drinking water to 600 villages in Punjab, giving a go-ahead to the initiative whose delay was particularly shaking the confidence of some participating Chinese companies.

That the objections had been cleared was revealed by the Germany consultants at a high-level meeting chaired by the provincial chief secretary two days ago. Subsequently, the Punjab Saaf Pani Company (PSPC) has quickly finalised its technical evaluation of the bids and informed its results to the participating companies.

PSPC Chief Executive Officer Wasim Ajmal Chaudhry told Dawn that the company had already conducted the technical evaluation of the bids but could not announce its results because of the objections.

The financial bids would be opened on Nov 3 and 4 and the contracts would be awarded to the successful bidders after negotiations under the rules and regulations, he said.

Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had asked a German company to re-check different aspects of the bidding process which were approved by the engineering management consultants (EMCs) already working for the PSPC, after the submission of the bids by 19 foreign companies on Sept 8 this year.

The companies had furnished bids for 14 projects costing an estimated Rs210 billion. And the PSPC had announced that financial bids would be opened in two to three weeks after carrying out technical assessment. On an average each company had shown interest to win two to three projects while one company was interested in nine projects.

But the process was delayed as the chief minister ordered probe into various aspects of the bidding like the feasibility reports of the surveys on the basis of which the projects were made and the highly technical pre-qualification of the bidders. And after it cleared all such aspects the final order was to check whether the engineering management consultants which had checked every technical aspect of the process for the PSPC were appointed legally or not. There had never been any such objection against these consultants since their appointment by the PSPC nearly two years ago.

While speaking to Dawn, a representative of one of the 15 contesting Chinese companies, some of them a part of the CPEC, had alleged a few days ago that the bidding process was being delayed to accommodate a western company which had taken part in the pre-qualification exercise but could not furnish its bid.

He said the delay was shaking the confidence of the Chinese in the investment opportunities in Punjab. “My company is not happy with the situation because each bid for the 14 projects has cost us Rs10 million to 20 million, and a painstaking highly technical input,” he said.

Official sources on Saturday said the process got a go-ahead when the German company told the chief secretary that there was no fault in the entire procedure of the projects and their bidding. It also found no faults in the appointment of the engineering management consultants that had helped the PSPC prepare the projects, select international bidders for them and open their bids.

The PSPC was incorporated in 2014 to develop, design, plan and execute projects for providing safe drinking water to the rural areas of Punjab. It could nevertheless install 90 water plants in Bahawalpur, Bahawalnagar, Rahim Yar Khan and Lodhran at a cost of Rs1.10 billion under a pilot project. The then CEO had, however, saved Rs280 million through negotiations with the installing companies.

As per the 14 projects whose bidding process has now been restarted would be completed in 15 months, providing clean drinking water to 30 million people in 600 villages in Punjab. The contractors would enjoy a five-year operational and maintenance right. Funds would be provided by the Punjab government.

Published in Dawn, October 30th, 2016