Ekemp has no contract
BVR may not take place if...
By Othello B. Garblah
The National Elections Commission Chair Madam Davidetta Brown Lasannah says the Commission has not awarded contract to Ekemp or any other group to provide services for the Biometric Voters Registration process ahead of the 2023 general and presidential elections.
The NEC boss told New Dawn in an inclusive interview on Thursday, October 20, 2022, that the commission has only forwarded to the Public Procurement Concession Commission (PPCC) a supplementary report of the re-demonstrated biometric enrolment and deduplication process recently carried out by bidders, pending the latter’s approval or objection.
She said the presentation of the supplementary report to PPCC was done on Wednesday, October 19, in compliance with PPCC’s request for reevaluation of bidders to include power point presentations and prefinancing capability and that at this point no contract has been signed with Ekemp.
“The commission has done everything possible to adhere to the rules of the procurement process,” she said, adding the issue of prefinancing which was also of concern to PPCC has also been addressed.
Asked what NEC’s next plan of action would be should the PPCC reject its reaffirmed bidder, Madam Lasannah explained “if the PPCC approves what we sent, then it will take us to the next step. If the PPCC decides not to approve, then we will have to be in for another process.”
The NEC boss further that if PPCC decides to object the likelihood of the commission using the BVR process in the upcoming election will not be possible.
She further explained that this would mean canceling the entire bid and since probability of the same bidders reapplying for the same item is high, it would be more likely that NEC would use another system of registration, something that would take nearly three months to get a bid winner.
It could be recalled that on September 9, 2022, PPCC wrote NEC demanding the latter to reinvite bidders to do a re-demonstration of the biometric enrolment and deduplication process and that such exercise be video recorded.
PPCC made the request after NEC forwarded to it on September 2, 2022, the joint venture of Ekemp International Limited, INITS Limited, and Palm Insurance Inc as presumed winner of its July 29 bid, which was completed on August 26 and signed by members of the bid panel.
In all there were 6 bidders; Laxton Group limited; The joint venture of Waymark Infotech and Mwenata; Electoral Services International; The joint venture of Ekemp International Limited, INITS Limited, and Palm Insurance Inc.; The joint venture of Professional Services Inc. and HID Global; and Network Solution Liberia Limited.
But PPCC demand for more documentary evidence prompted its request for a reevaluation of the bidders.
During the reevaluation process, Ekemp while in the process of printing its card to complete its presentation was asked to move to the demonstration of the project, something which caused some technical problems delaying its printing.
On October 8, Ekemp wrote the bid panel informing it of its treatment, In the same communication, Ekemp clarified the reason behind the delay in printing its card. While the NDC bid Panel was in the process of reviewing Ekemp’s communication, Ekemp to NEC procurement to the Supreme Court.
At a conference, the Court ruled that the art of demonstration by Ekemp did take place, therefore, Ekemp completed its task once it printed on that same day.
Ekemp during its presentation in August also printed on the spot.
The NEC, PPCC and Ekemp debacle has not gone notice in the public.
The Liberia Election Observation Network (LEON) in one of its reports stated: “The basis of this second tender presentation was because of the PPCC’s request that NEC furnishes it with additional documentation including video evidence of presentations supporting NEC’s award to Ekemp International.
Whilst the PPCA at section 43(8) gives the PPCC the authority to inspect the records and documents maintained by procuring entities, the Act is unclear as to whether the PPCC on its own, and without a third-party’s complaint, can outrightly reject an Entity’s no objection request based on “insufficient documentation,” more specifically “video documentation.”
LEON proposes that in future, and to avoid opening procuring entities such as NEC up to court processes by dissatisfied bidders, the PPCC and procuring entities sit on agreeable frameworks of documentation for competitive bidding processes prior to publication of tenders especially those of the international competitive kind considering the sums and technical expertise involved.