University of Malawi (Unima) is facing criticism for being “inconsiderate and unfair” to Zomba taxi operators following a contract the institution has granted to G.G Car Rentals to provide car hire services to the ‘varsity’s Centre for Social Research (CSR).
CSR in partnership with the Ministry of Health and ICAP at Columbia University will be implementing a national survey, Malawi Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (MPHIA) to characterize HIV prevalence, incidence, viral load, CD4+ cell distribution and HIV risk behaviors in the country.
The Centre therefore allocated funds for the procurement of car hire services on “as and when required basis” for a period of 12 months– commencing this November.
The vehicles, according to sources, will be used during the survey but some will be required during different phases of training of field teams.
Sources told Nyasa Times that disgruntled taxi operators penned the college after allegedly noting that the successful bidder–G.G Car Rentals– does not have the required vehicles as indicated in the bidding document, Procurement of Car Hire Service [procurement number S55-06-15].
“We have been receiving queries over this contract with others claiming that money changed hands for G.G. to have the contract. Zomba taxi operators are bitter for being sidelined. They thought they will be considered to provide the services throughout the project,” said one of the sources, who asked for anonymity.
The source also alleged that the institution’s internal procurement team, alongside officials from the Road Traffic Department, inspected all the firms that were shortlisted to appreciate the conditions of their vehicles, but they did not find any at G.G Car Rentals, owned by Gerald Ganiza, a senior officer at Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc).
He said they involved the official motor examiners to test each vehicle and establish if the firms had the capacity to supply 70 vehicles.
“The field teams will be expected to transport blood samples to satellite laboratories within 24 hours. As such, CSR wanted to hire only vehicles that would meet stipulated conditions for the successful completion of the project.
“CSR was looking for 4×4 cars with minimum seating capacity of 7 and that it why they did involve motor examiners to, among other things, establish registration status and insurance cover of each firm. And also to know if the firms had the capacity and ability to provide back-up vehicles in case of breakdowns. We expect replacement of vehicles within 24 hours,” said the source.
While effort to have Ganiza’s position and to get a copy of Zomba taxi operators’ letter proved futile, Chancellor College Assistant Registrar Elijah Chizimba confirmed receipt of the letter from the disgruntled taxi operators.
Chizimba said the bid was open to all car hire service providers and that the successful bidder met all the stipulated conditions.
Other companies that were pre-selected, according to the tender opening summary in our possession, are Zoom Car Hire, FAST, Grand Prix, Alexander, Nsapato, Umodzi, Bye Tours, Countrywide Car Hire, Wise Wheels and Planet.
Chizimba claimed bidding was conducted in accordance with the open tendering procedures contained in the Public Procurement Law and Regulations of the country.
“Zomba taxi operators penned us to complain for not picking them. They said we have been very unfair to them. The contract and entire project involves a lot money and we can not just hire a very jim and jack.
“Others are alleging that we were given K5 million to award the contract to G.G Car Rentals. The bidding process was done by well versed procurement officers and they also sent the bidding documents to the Office Director of Public Procurement to do the vetting,” said Chizimba.
According to tender opening summary, G.G Rentals quoted a flat rate of K37, 000 per day, but the Office of Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), in a letter dated September 4 2015 and signed by Matrida Banda (Ref.No. ODPP/03/99), granted “its no objection’ approval that contract be awarded to G.G Car Rentals only at a cost rate of K39,500 per day.
“Stories that the inspection team did not find any vehicle at G.G Rentals are not true. What I got is that when the team got to G.G Rentals, had to wait for over three hours just see the vehicles as they were on other errands.
“Whether the successful bidder has vehicles or not, its not our concern. The bidding document did not bar any bidder from outsourcing. Who or which car rental has 70 4×4 vehicles?
“We just expect him to provide us with the required vehicle as stipulated in the bidding documents. How he will source or get them is none of our business,” said Chizimba.
Apart from providing back-up vehicles in the event of breakdowns, G.G Car Rentals will also be reliable for allowances for the affected team members.
The firm will also provide 300 career bags, 380 reflector jackets and 300 umbrellas to field team members.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :