Somalia: Puntland accused of tender malpractices in EU funded road project
GAROWE, Puntland- The state’s body responsible for roads infrastructure and rehabilitation, Puntland Highway Authority (PHA) is expected to announce in the coming days the winning bidder that will implement the maintenance project for part of the highway connecting Garowe and Galkayo, that is financed by the European Union (EU), Garowe Online reports.
The project aimed to reconstruct the damaged sections of the road about 80 km between Jalam and Harfo villages, and was reported that PHA has pressed to ensure local-based companies to implement the project instead of international companies, that raised concerns among EU officials due to the lack of capacity and experience of local companies to implement such project as intended.
As the tender opened earlier, many company participated in the process and few were selected in the short-listing stage that included Al Bashid, Sundus, El Gaar, Is-Hilqan and JIBBCON, according to sources.
However, representative linked to those companies, have been reported to have political connection to some officials of the Tender Committee, PHA and Puntland cabinet officials, competing to secure the contract.
-Puntland Tender Committee’
A recent survey conducted by Puntland State University (PSU) between December 2015 and April 2016, on public views in regard to corruption in Puntland, has exposed a rampant corruption and widespread malpractices in government institutions.
The survey revealed corruption in most of the state institutions but most prevalent in Puntland Tender Committee that is manifested in bribery, bid rigging, nepotism and favoritism, among other factors.
In most of the cases, officials of the Tender Committee opt to disclose information with companies that is owned by group who they shares clan association, that fade away the likelihood of competent companies to fairly challenge for the bid.
The survey also stated that companies resort to pay bribes to officials to acquire information and pay further colossal payment in case the company triumphed over their rivals.
Based on the survey, malpractice and corruption overshadow the bidding process in all of its stages that includes advertisement, short-listing and checking eligibility.
-Maintenance project of Garowe-Galkayo corridor’
The project is considered the second biggest project to be implemented in Puntland region in the past 25 years and reported to cost $ 6 Million, sponsored by the EU through a Germany-based organization, GIZ.
At the early stage, international companies were planned to participate in the bidding process but was strongly opposed by PHA Director, Mahmoud Abdinur Adan, who persuaded Puntland government and donors that a consortium of local companies will have the capacity, machinery and workforce to accomplish the project.
However, experts in road maintenance have revealed that the highway is frequently used by heavy trucks and stated that local companies have failed previously to successfully implement road projects in Puntland towns, but this was rejected by PHA Director and officials close to the President, who they have connection with companies in the bidding process.
According to the agreement between Puntland government and EU, the road project would be jointly managed by PHA and GIZ, as both will also oversee the tendering process.
Close sources told GO that Adan has later amended the process, permitting a single company to succeed the contract, which stunned most of the companies and suspected a covert deal with particular company.
Reports also revealed that Abdiqani “Dhashane”, a British-Somalia, has a major role in the road maintenance project. He was the Head of projects office at the State House before been appointed as the Head of Puntland Tender Committee. He shares the same clan association with President Abdiwali Mohamed Ali “Gaas”.
In the past two years, Dashane had influence in most of the foreign sponsored projects in Puntland and the ones implemented by the international organizations. He was accused numerously of intimidating organizations for not reporting on their project activities in Puntland state.
-Companies participated in the bidding process’
The Tender Committee and PHA have previously announced that 9 local companies have expressed interests to implement the project and among them was, Al Bashid company, owned by a businessman named Abdirahman aka “John Yardi”.
The company has built two bridges in the areas located between Kalabyr and Bossaso city, and secured contracts to build two-floor building at Bossaso port at a cost of $ 800,000 and a new market in Bossaso city sponsored by Japan.
The company is reported to have close political connection with officials in the Tender Committee and Puntland government, which facilitated the process to win the contract over other companies.
On the other hand, El Gaar company, which facing turmoil as it couldn’t secure projects following their failure to accomplish road 30 "Jidka Sodonka” project as it intended in Garowe city, prompted the company to be blacklisted from further projects sponsored by JPLG.
Continuing, Sundus company, is co-owned by Abdirashid Mohamed Hersi, Puntland Minister of Public Works, also some members of Puntland Parliament and deputy chief of staff, Awil Daad.
The Garowe-Galkayo corridor is crucial for Puntland’s economy and a key for commercial trade between southern and northern parts of Somalia. Thus, the successful completion of the project is necessary to avoid risk of hindering further development project to be donated to Puntland state.
Most public have urged government to implement transparency to end corruption, irregularities and embezzlement in the institutions and particularly the state's Tender Committee, who they recommended a reform to ensure fair and credible process among companies.