THE tender to provide laptops to standard one pupils was yesterday cancelled by the Public Procurement Oversight Authority. In February the Education ministry awarded Olive Telecommunications the tender to supply 1.2 million laptops at a cost of Sh24.6 billion.
Yesterday the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board chaired by Josephine Mong'are ruled that the government should restart the tender within 45 days from the point of opening the best and final offers. The ministry, she added, should conduct due diligence in accordance with the criteria set out in the tender documents.The board ruled that only Hewlett Packard Europe and Haier Electrical Appliances of China could participate.
The ministry's due diligence team had produced a report saying that Olive could produce the laptops through a joint venture with New China Optronics. But the Board ruled that the tender documents had no provision for a joint venture and Olive was not an Original Equipment Manufacturer. "The board hereby finds that the winning bidder did not only meet the financial and technical capabilities but also that the bid was awarded in contravention of the Act and the tender documents," the board ruled.
The Board also found that Olive had later adjusted its final offer upwards by Sh1.4 billion and directed the ministry to deduct "any sum wrongly added onto the contract sum for any of the two party's best and final offers". Lawyers Andrew Musangi and Kamau Karori for Haier and HP respectively welcomed the decision.
The board ruled that no one should be condemned to pay the costs since the matter was of great public importance but criticized the ministry for not following the law to the letter. The government had defended Olive Telecommunications saying it met the bid requirements and was an OEM. In filing its review, Haier argued that the two sample 'Classmate' laptops given to the ministry by Olive were in fact manufactured at the ECS factory in Suzhou which is 48 per cent owned by Haier.