Fidelis Munyoro Chief Court Reporter
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) tender for refurbishment of its silos has spilled into the Administrative Court with two companies involved in a legal tussle for the lucrative contract.
GMB is revamping silos at its depots across the country to ensure the optimum storage of grain delivered. Early this year the GMB floated a tender inviting bids for the mechanical and electrical rehabilitation of its silos at 12 depots countrywide.
The depots are at Murewa, Aspindale, Concession, Chiweshe, Banket, Lion’s den, Karoi, Magunje, Norton, Chegutu and Bulawayo. Seventeen companies submitted bids and site visits conducted at the depots in March..
Out of the 17 companies only two – Slowgrade Engineering (Pvt) Ltd and Roytech Automation Controls (Pvt) Ltd – were awarded the contract after meeting the tender requirements.
One of the losing bidders, Conduit Investment (Pvt) Ltd, has taken GMB and the State Procurement Board to the Administrative Court challenging the decision to award Slowgrade the contract. Though Conduit Investment was compliant in all aspects, its charges were deemed “too high”.
The company filed a notice of appeal at the Administrative Court objecting to GMB’s view that their technical bid was not compliant with one of the mandatory requirements of the tender. At the same time Conduit Investment filed an urgent chamber application seeking to suspend the operation of the contract awarded to Slowgrade pending the outcome of the appeal.
Slowgrade lawyer Advocate Kith Kachambwa instructed by Mr Zvenyika Chidyausiku opposed the chamber application before Justice Herbert Mandeya. Adv Kachambwa argued that the notice of appeal by Conduit was defective hence a nullity.
He also argued that the urgent application was filed out of time. Conduit Investment, argued Adv Kachambwa, was informed of the outcome of the tender adjudication on May 18 this year but chose to contest the bid 20 days after the stipulated period.
GMB, which was represented by Messrs GH Muzondo and Partners, filed a certificate urgent “public interest consideration requirement” in terms of Section 44(2) (b) of the Procurement Act. The certificate stops Conduit Investment’s bid to suspend the operation of the contract awarded to Slowgrade.
Justice Mandeya reserved ruling saying he wanted to consider submissions by all parties counsel. The refurbishment of GMB silos was inspired by good rains received this just ended cropping season, Command Agriculture and the Presidential Input Support Scheme that resulted in a bumper harvest.