Tanzania: WB Suspends Indian Firm Over Tanzania Bribes

Dar es Salaam — The World Bank has suspended Indian-based Sai Consulting Engineering Ltd from carrying out its projects for two years allegedly for bribing Tanzanian officials to expedite invoice payment during the construction of several one stop border posts.

Sai was undertaking consulting services for the design and supervision of the construction of One Stop Border Post infrastructures at Horohoro, Holili and Sirari border stations under the East Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Project.

One component of the East Africa Trade and Transport Facilitation Project, which closed in 2015, was designed to improve trade and transport facilitation in the East African Community Customs Union through construction and management of border posts.

According to the Washington-based institution, Sai, which had contracts to build and manage several border posts in Tanzania, offered cash payment vouchers and gifts to project officials to expedite invoice payments, which is a corrupt practice.

The WB has also disqualified the South Sudanese firm Universal for General Construction and Trading Company from undertaking its projects for 15 months over similar allegations. The WB released a statement on Wednesday saying SAI has acknowledged responsibility of the alleged corrupt practices.

This was after SYSTRA, a France-based international engineering and consulting group that acquired 65 per cent of SAI in 2014 voluntarily disclosed Sai's corrupt practices to the World Bank Group's Integrity Vice Presidency (INT).

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The minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi and his Deputy Dr Damas Ndumbaro could not be available for comment on the development.

However, it is understood that the Tanzanian government had in March 2016 ordered a value for money audit into the expenditure of Sh7.3 billion Horohoro One Stop Border Post that was being implemented by Sai.

The then infrastructure minister Prof Makame Mbarawa said the building did not reflect the actual cost for the works.

His remarks came after he toured the border post and inspected the building that was already in use, only to discover it was in a dilapidated condition and some of its roofs could easily be pulled down. The minister was shocked to learn the roof of the building was leaking when it rained and its generators, which were part of the project, were not working since they were installed.

The construction of Horohoro border post at the Tanzania-Kenya border was one of the World Bank-funded projects under the East African Trade and Transport Facilitation Project was implemented by Sai Consultancy Company-along with a local contractor--Siha Construction Company.

Reports say the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) was the employer who hired consultants and contractors of the Horohoro and Sirari border post projects.

But TRA's director of taxpayer education, Mr Richard Kayombo told The Citizen yesterday the supervision and management of the projects were put under the ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation.

"The projects were just handed over to the TRA upon their completion," said Mr Kayombo.

Mozambique, Ghana projects

Sai was also accused of taking part in similar corrupt practices in the World Bank-funded infrastructure projects in Mozambique and Ghana.

According to the WB, Sai, which had a contract to do engineering design for a road and bridges in Mozambique, offered cash pay-ments and gifts to project officials to expedite invoice payments, which is a corrupt practice.

The company was also accused of committing similar misconduct during the implementation of a pro-ject in Ghana designed to improve mobility of goods and passengers and improve road safety standards in the country.

World Bank statement says Sai has committed to developing an integrity compliance program consistent with the principles set out in the World Bank Group Integrity Compliance Guidelines and continue to fully cooperate with the World Bank Group Integrity Vice Presidency.

SAI was sanctioned with conditional non-debarment, which means it remains eligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects as long as it complies with certain corporate compliance obligations that are defined in a settlement agreement.

World Bank say the sanction was reduced in recognition that SYSTRA voluntarily disclosed SAI's corrupt practices to the World Bank Group's Integrity Vice Presidency (INT).

In the agreement, If Sai does not meet its corporate compliance obligations, the company will become ineligible to participate in World Bank-financed projects until it meets the conditions set out in the settlement agreement.

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