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Bid chokes LPRC

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The legal battle between the Management of the Liberia Petroleum Refining Company or LPRC and the New York-based VREX Remodeling, Inc. –one of seven companies that were pre-qualified by the former for its Product Storage Terminal Expansion Project Phase One on Bushrod Island in Monrovia has taken another twist with the latter filing an appeal to the Supreme Court of Liberia.

VREX Remodeling Inc. is contending that Lutech Engineering & Project Management Consultant FZC JV, the company awarded the contract by the LPEC management was not initially listed among the seven pre-qualified companies in violation of Part V, Section 62(3) of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission (PPCC) Act of 2010.

The company subsequently filed a formal complaint to the Complains, Appeals, and Review Panel of the PPCC against the LPRC Management on 11 January 2016 for allegedly violating Part III, Section 62 (3) of the Public Procurement and Concessions Commission Act of 2010.

The Panel, under the Chairmanship of Cllr. Beyan D. Howard, invited all parties for hearing on Tuesday, January 26, 2016, including VREX Remodeling Inc. represented by its agent in Monrovia, Mr. H.Q. Taylor; the LPRC Management represented by its Managing Director Mr. Sumo G. Kupee, and Lutech Engineering & Project Management Consultant FZC JV, the controversial bid winner.

After hearing from both parties the CARP opinioned that the LPRC is in violation of Section 62 (3) of the PPCC Act, 2010 as well as Section 5.2 (b) of the Standard Bidding Document issued by the LPRC Management, noting “The Complains, Appeals and Review Panel believes that the contention is based on inconsistencies of the records submitted by the LPRC.”

“Accordingly, the Complains, Appeals and Review Panel (CARP) annuls the decision of LPRC in favor of Letech Engineering and Project Management Consultants FZC JV. The Liberia Petroleum Refining Company is hereby ordered to award the project to the second most responsive evaluated bidder if the bidder meets all the LPRC’s technical requirements, and furnish a report to all parties not later than seven (7) days as of the receipt of this Ruling. AND IT IS HEREBY SO ORDERED”, the Panel ruled.

However, the LPRC Management thru its legal representative Dunbar & Dunbar Law Offices, excepted to the CARP’s ruling and subsequently petitioned the Civil Law Court at the Temple of Justice in Monrovia.

“Kindly take judicial notice and instruct the Clerk of the Complaints, Appeals & Review Panel to spread on the records of these proceedings that the Defendant, Liberia Petroleum Refining Company excerpts to the Final Ruling of the Complaints, Appeal & Review Panel”, the LPRC responded against the ruling.

But the court dismissed the petition last Thursday, 6 April on grounds that VREX Remodeling Inc. should have waited for 30 days to move for enforcement of the PPCC’s ruling, but instead, it moved for enforcement after 28 days, two days prior to the legal deadline.

The company argues that it moved earlier due to the decision of the LPRC Management to cancel the current bidding process, engulfed in legal battle and invite all parties to re-bid, which it says, clearly indicates the LPRC has abandoned its appeal and has no interest in pursuing the case further.

Documentary evidence gathered by this paper revealed names of seven companies pre-qualified by the LPRC Management as the following: Xinjian Petroleum Investigation Design & Research Institute (Co. Ltd.), DRA, Letech Engineering, Enpetrol, Afcons Infrastructure Limited, Eco Fuel FZE and VREX Remodeling, Inc.

Lutech Engineering & Project Management Consultant FZC JV was never among the pre-qualified companies, but the LPRC Management maintains Letech Engineering is the same as Lutech Engineering & Project Management Consultant FZC JV and therefore, won the bid.

Reporting and editing by Jonathan Browne

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