Saying the process was unfair, Cevons Waste Management has filed a protest with the newly-established Bid Protest Committee (BPC) over the award of the recently announced $221M contract to Puran Brothers Disposal Inc. for the operation and maintenance of the Haags Bosch Landfill.
“We have appealed to the Bid Protest Committee because the Ministry of Communities rejected our request… We feel and can justify our claim that the process for selection was not fair and in accordance with the criteria set out,” Chief Executive Officer of Cevons Waste Management Morse Archer told Stabroek News after the filing last week.
This will be the first tender review for the three-member body, which comprises Renee McDonald, the chairperson, and Archibald Clifton and Ewart Adams. It will likely put even more pressure on government for the promised establishment of the Public Procurement Commission.
Attorney General Basil Williams told Stabroek News yesterday that the Committee is expected to commence working tomorrow.
Efforts to contact Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan for comment were unsuccessful.
Puran Brothers Disposal Inc. on Thursday signed the contract with the Ministry of Communities for the operation of the landfill for a period of one year.
Cevons contends that there was a rush to sign the contract last week, which Archer says “seems kind of fishy” as the Ministry of Communities knows that the company had objected to the contract and had subsequently written to the Bid Protest Committee. “Why when all of this is going on you rush to call in Puran to sign the contract Thursday and have been getting correspondence from us about the protest and objections and all of these things? Why?” he questioned.
“Something seems kind of fishy about that and something is not adding up …all we want is a fair hearing of our concerns…we are ready to go public,” he added.
In February, the Ministry of Communities publicly invited bids for the maintenance of the landfill subsequent to the termination of a contract held by BK Inc.
The Engineer’s Estimate for the project was $27M for monthly operations.
Five companies submitted bids:
On June 29, Minister of State Joseph Harmon announced that Cabinet had given its no-objection for the award to Puran Brothers.
However, Archer produced a dossier of documents to support his claim that his group had been purposely marginalised.
He said that he had only learned that the contract was granted to Puran Brothers when, while on a plane to England, he read an article in the July 1 edition of the Stabroek News about Harmon’s announcement.
As a result, the company had its office here write to the Chairman of the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) requesting a review of the contract.
However, they were told of the process for protest, according to the Procurement Act, which starts with informing the procuring entity of their objections, then, if not satisfied, the BPC.
The Ministry of Communities was written to but has since rejected the request for review on the grounds that the bid by the Cevons group was not the most responsive.
Not satisfied with the Ministry’s reasons for rejecting the request for review, the group moved to the BPC, as provided for in the Procurement Act, since there is no Public Procurement Commission. It is now awaiting that appeal.
Grounds for protest
In the protest, seen by Stabroek News, the group lists four reasons—low price, technical competence, operation methodology and past performance—as grounds for the appeal.
It said Puran Brothers’ estimate is 32% below that of the engineer, which is substantially-below accepted norms of 20%. As a result, it contends that if one were to take the government engineer to be competent and experienced in the Haags Bosch landfill operation, then it is difficult to accept Puran Brothers delivering at 32% below the engineer’s estimates while at the same time making a profit.
The Cevons joint venture is 19% below the engineer’s estimate, the group argues.
Further, it added that the Puran Brothers was previously involved in a joint venture with BK, prior to contract termination and it was requesting a price increase after it had initially put in a low bid price. “…They also should have been wary of the effect of low price and the consequent results of Guyana ending up with one of the worst managed landfills,” it said.
In the area of technical competence, the group said that it has a more technically-qualified and experienced team than Puran Brothers. The team includes a Project Manager, British Citizen John Thompson, who has international experience operating a landfill accepting over 150 tonnes per day. Thompson, it claims, would allow for the transfer of best international practices to local counterparts, so that Guyana would benefit.
In addition, it said geo-technical engineer Charles Ceres, who heads Ground Structures Engineering, also brings a wealth of experience to the project as he conducted the Environmental Impact Assessment of the Haags Bosch landfill and would bring value by ensuring environmental compliance.
Ivor Allen and Archer are also part of the team and they bring needed equipment and years of experience of completing a number of major civil engineering project on time and within specified budgets, the group said.
In explaining the benefits of the group’s operating methodologies, Cevons said that it put forward the most efficient system to operate the landfill.
“Now in order to minimize odour, bird and pest infestation, etc the waste/garbage deposited at the site daily has to be covered daily at the end of each shift. Traditionally the garbage is covered daily by earth (say 6 to 8 inches thick) at the end of the day. At the start of the new day this very earth that was used as cover has to be removed. If the earth is not fully removed it could prevent the leachate from travelling downwards and hence would not travel to the leachate plant/pond to be treated. In our methodology of operating the landfill we have decided to use for daily cover of the waste the highly effective and efficient system of HDPE plastic. The HDPE plastic doesn’t have to be removed at the start of the new day since mere traversing of the equipment to place the next load of waste destroys this cover and in the process would allow the leachate to travel downwards which is ideal,” it explained.
This, the group said, would minimize the effect on residents in the Eccles and contiguous communities, who have complained about being affected by smelly garbage. The group said it would also reduce bird and other infestations since garbage is no longer exposed as in the case when earth is used as daily cover. “In addition it is less burdensome to have a situation where the earth has to be found to cover the landfill daily and removed every day before work starts, thus exposing the garbage,” it added, while arguing that this was one reason for the BK/Puran Brothers’ failure, since its burdensome to place earth on a daily basis and to remove it the next day. It said while it was aware that the HDPE plastic costs more than earth per square meter of cover, it is far more efficient and effective.
Archer pointed out that the fact that Puran Brothers was initially partnered with BK International to manage the landfill from 2009 should have raised questions about competence.
“It was Puran and BK who formed a partnership and were managing the landfill… they might argue that Puran came out later on or BK pushed them out or whatever, but the fact is this is the same company that was executing the maintainece when it was messed up. Why would you now take the same company to manage the site again? …No, it is not like we feel we have a right to the contract, we just want to be satisfied that correct procedures were followed and we trust the committee to make that decision,” he asserted.
It is against Puran Brother’ record that the group is also asking for the BPC’s review. “BK and Purans’ Joint Venture have been managing the landfill for over five years and have done a terrible job to the point that it is now a national disaster and embarrassment. Guyana had the opportunity to have a landfill that would have been comparable to any in the world and we were denied this opportunity by the last government giving the job to the BK and Purans’ joint venture. Now that the landfill turned into a national disaster Purans Brothers are trying to delink responsibilities,” the company added.