17 APRIL 2002
By Kurt Sansone
The new road intersection near the new hospital at Tal-Qroqq is at the centre of serious allegations made by two construction companies which yesterday filed a court protest claiming that the tender was awarded to the highest-priced bidder against established regulations.
Bonnici Brothers and Elbros Construction alleged that there were "obscure" reasons behind the decision to award the road tender to Polidano Brothers Road Services for half a million liri more than the formers joint bid.
Speaking to The Malta Financial and Business Times, Elbros director Saviour Ellul expressed his disappointment at the tender decision, saying his company had complied with all technical specifications outlined in the tender. "Nonetheless, they decided to award the contract to somebody who has quoted a price that is Lm500,000 over our bid," Mr Ellul remarked.
The court protest was made against the Director of Contracts and the Roads Director, and the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister as government representatives.
Bonnici Brothers and Elbros Construction had presented a joint bid for the road project. They had qualified for the final stage of the adjudication process after their tender presentation conformed to the technical requisites of the project.
The only other company that made it to the final stage was Polidano Brothers Road Services.
Bonnici and Elbros explained in the court protest that tender regulations, state that once the process reaches the third and final stage the financial cost of the package would determine the choice. But despite having the cheapest bid at Lm893,405, Bonnici and Elbros were not awarded the tender. Instead it was awarded to Polidano Brothers whose bid is priced at Lm1.4 million.
Bonnici and Elbros claimed that although their bid was confirmed to be "technically compliant" by the Director of Contracts in October last year, the same director started alleging that their offer was "not up to specifications" when the prices became known.
They allege that the behaviour of the Director of Contracts "leads any reasonable person to suspect obscure reasons as to why the accused are ignoring the basic principles of law and that the tender of the plaintiffs was half a million cheaper".
Bonnici Brothers and Elbros Construction asked the court to annul the tender and requested the government to investigate the award procedure. The protest was signed by Dr Franco Vassallo.