THE ministry of agriculture has decided to pick the Italian dam construction firm Salini S.p.A despite it being ranked second in the bids that the ministry evaluated for the controversial multi-billion-dollar Neckartal Dam project near Keetmanshoop.
Ministry of Agriculture sources told The Namibian yesterday that the ministerial tender committee chaired by Anna Shiweda has recommended that the Italian company, with its bid of N$2,873 billion, be appointed to start work on the project which has been going back and forth between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Tender Board since December 2011. The Tender Board meets today.
The Namibian was informed that Salini came second to Vinci-Orascom Joint Venture in the overall evaluation but the ministry will apparently motivate that Salini scored the highest in their technical bid and has the best technical know-how and experienced staff in the construction of dams.
If the recommendation is approved it means the ministry get its way after the controversy that led to the cancellation of the tender last year following allegations that the ministry had gone out of its way to favour another Italian firm Impregilo. Salini and Impregilo were reported to have merged last year, thus giving the bid to the same people.
Salini also scored the second highest in its financial bid. Sources claim that Vinci-Orascom Joint Venture had also scored the highest in the technical portion at the preliminary stages of the tender evaluation but were eventually beaten with less than one percent by Salini.
The third company on the shortlist is CSC Neckartal Dam Joint Venture. It is a joint venture of Stefanutti Stocks and CMC de Ravenna (Italy) and they scored the highest in the financial evaluation as it had the lowest bid of N$2,72 billion for the project, while Vinci-Orascom had the highest bid of N$2,876 billion.
Salini scored the worst on the risk evaluation, coming in third at 76,7%, while CSC scored the highest with 87.3% and Vinci-Orascom scored 83,2%.
On the social evaluation Salini came second to Vinci-Orascom but the Agricultrue Ministry's tender committee is of the opinion that although the company was second it fared best in terms of money to be spent in Namibia and also the use of Namibian subcontractors.
Agriculture permanent secretary Joseph Iita did not want to comment on today's meeting, which is expected to be as explosive as other Tender Board meetings that dealt with thorny issues. "I am not going to discuss anything about that to anyone," Iita said yesterday when asked about today's meeting.
Neckartal will be the largest dam in Namibia.
The awarding of the tender will end more than a year of controversy and speculation, which also saw the Anti-Corruption Commission investigating a several permanent secretaries who were implicated in bribery allegations. Most of these officials are still members of the Tender Board.