The process of identifying a kits supplier for the August 8 elections faces another hurdle after a bidder sought to halt it.
This is the second time the procurement has been stopped in as many months after the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) got a reprieve to proceed with the process only a month ago.
The IEBC has been forced to stop the process of evaluating 10 firms eyeing the Sh3 billion deal, rekindling memories of 2012, when the electoral agency failed to navigate vendor wars, leading to the sabotage of the process of acquiring the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.
The late procurement of Electronic Voter Identification Devices (EVID) also faced a similar fate when the kits largely failed in the March 4, 2013 polls.
This time, an American firm, Avante International Technology Inc., has moved to the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) seeking to stop the process on grounds that it is flawed.
Avante Inc., through its president Kevin Chung who is represented by city lawyer Nelson Havi, petitioned the PPARB on Wednesday last week on two major grounds; that the tender prices for all the 10 bidders were not read out loudly during opening of the bid and that the IEBC introduced a new addendum to the tender that fundamentally changed the specifications of the original tender, thus disadvantaging them.
“The introduction of the addendum to the tender on January 18 and the omission to read out the prices at the opening of the tender on February 2 are fundamental issues to the evaluation of the bids submitted by the tenderers,” reads the affidavit.
IEBC has since been served with the application and, in accordance with the law, asked to stop the process until the matter is heard and determined. The commission is set to meet today to prepare a response to the claims, with both parties expected to appear before the board on Tuesday.
On December 29 last year, a little known Kenyan firm moved to the PPARB on claims that the process was flawed and skewed in favour of one of the bidders.
Dittel Limited, through its director Jackson Nduati, moved to the board on grounds that a French firm, Saphran Morpho, had infiltrated the commission by allegedly preparing tender specifications.
However, on January 17, Dittel strangely decided to withdraw the case, giving the IEBC a relief it required to proceed with the procurement.
The IEBC then proceeded to open the tender and began evaluating the 10 firms for the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) whose cost is estimated at Sh3 billion.
The firms include Safran Identity and Security of France, Gemalto Security of The Netherlands, Novus Holdings of South Africa, Lithotech (South Africa), Supertech STL (Ghana), Kenya’s Compulynx, UK’s Smartmatic, USA’s Avante Inc., Bigradap Tech of South Africa and Spanish firm Indra Technology.
The successful firm is to provide the commission with a solution that will integrate the ongoing Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), Electronic Voter Identification, Electronic Voter Tallying (EVT) and Electronic Results Transmission kits.
When the process started, the IEBC had not more than 30 days to complete the evaluation and awarding the tender to the successful bidder. However, this has now been suspended indefinitely.
The commission has to work extra hours to beat the May 10 deadline when the kits are required to be used in the verification of voters, but with the new development, there are fears the timeline may not be met.
If the procurement fails, then the preparation for the elections will be in disarray, as the technology is a requisite component of this year’s elections, following the passing of Election Amendment Laws.
The firms eyeing the current deal are far much fewer than in 2013 when the commission bungled the exercise, which was eventually taken up by the government that gave it to Canada through a government-to-government direct procurement.