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Procurement board bars IEBC from halting gadgets tender

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. (Photo: Wilberforce Okwiri/Standard)

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been barred from terminating a tender for electronic systems to be used in the August 8 General Election.

The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board ordered the IEBC not to re-advertise the tender for supply, installation, testing and commissioning of Kenya Integrated Election Management Systems until a case filed by a company whose contract had been cancelled is heard and determined.

“The procurement entity shall not act on the letter terminating the contract and shall not re-advertise or in any other way procure the services in question pending the hearing of the application for review,” ruled the board.

The integrated election management system is crucial in preparations since it is to be used to integrate the biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification and results transmission systems. The system was to be in place by end of March to be used for voter verification scheduled to begin in May. The board made the decision following an application by Avante International Technology Limited, challenging the IEBC tender process.

The US-based company had initially sought a review of the commission’s decision on January 18 and February 2 to introduce new conditions for the supply of integrated election management systems.

The company was also aggrieved by IEBC’s failure to read tender prices at the opening of the tenders.

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However, the commission, on February 28, issued another letter to all companies which had submitted their application cancelling the tendering process.

The review board was, however, not happy with the move, and warned the commission to stop acting through press statements without following the law.

The board further allowed the US firm to amend its application to reflect the latest move by IEBC to cancel the entire tender.

“IEBC has not demonstrated any prejudice they will suffer if the company is allowed to amend the application to reflect what has taken place. We will allow all amendments so that this matter can be concluded quickly,” ruled the board.

Separate suit

The board, chaired by lawyer Paul Gicheru, also dismissed IEBC’s contention that Avante International Technology Limited should have filed a separate suit, saying allowing it would protract the proceedings and reveal mischief which IEBC wants to avoid.

According to the board, it was wrong for the commission to issue a letter cancelling the tender without informing all companies that had applied, and ordered the commission to supply them with the later before the hearing on Monday next week.

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IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said they decided to cancel the tender due to concerns that it could delay preparations for the elections.

He said the electoral commission will put in place alternative measures to ensure the integrated electronic technology is in place in accordance with the requirements of the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act 2016.

According to Mr Chebukati, they opted for alternative mechanisms to procure the electronic system to avoid the long process of procurement where aggrieved companies go to court to challenge the outcome.

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