Tainted firm in the race to become the consultant for Dharahara reconstructionSeventh amendment to the Public Procurement Regulation opens door for the corruption-accused ERMC (P) Ltd to vie for the consulting job
A company whose participation had forced the National Reconstruction Authority to cancel the entire tender process for the appointment of a consulting firm for the reconstruction of Dharahara is once again in the bidding race.
In March, 2019, the reconstruction body had cancelled the entire bidding process after ERMC (P) Ltd and East West Engineering Service (P) Ltd, a joint venture, came first during the technical and financial evaluation.
The decision was taken after it was learned that the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority had filed a corruption case at the Special Court on December 7, 2018, against Arun Kumar Chaudhary, a team leader of M/S ERMC-ITECO Nepal JV, over substandard construction and repeated collapses of the main canal of the Sikta Irrigation Project. The anti-graft body had filed the case against 21 individuals including Chaudhary.
Dhruba Poudyal, senior divisional engineer at the authority confirmed that ERMC (P) Ltd and East West Engineering Service (P) Ltd, has once again been short-listed among four bidders.
“The other three bidders are Full Bright Consultancy-Digicon-CIC JV, Building Design Authority-MRB & Associate JV and Cave International-Soil Test JV,” he said.
The Public Procurement Act does not prevent any firm charged with corruption from participating in bids.
The authority had previously cancelled the bidding process for hiring consulting firm for Dharahara reconstruction because awarding the contract to ERMC (P) Ltd and East West Engineering Service (P) Ltd could have conveyed a negative message about the selection process.
As per the Public Procurement Act, anybody convicted by the court for corruption cannot participate in government bids. But the seventh amendment to Public Procurement Regulation, made on June 6, has allowed the government to decide whether to allow any firm or individual facing corruption case to participate in bids.
“We will do as per the provision of the Public Procurement Regulation,” said Poudyal.
The joint venture involving ERMC would have been out of the bidding race if the sixth amendment to the regulation, made on May 13, was still in effect.
After protests from the contractor, the government removed the rule of barring such bidder and made the provision of allowing the government to decide on the matter.
The NRA expects to spend around Rs50 million for a consultant. However, Poudyal said that the cost would be clear once the bids are opened.