A tender “shrouded with suspicions of corruption” to build a sea water reverse osmosis plant (SWRO) on the banks of the Kowie River has been suspended by the Grahamstown High Court pending a review hearing.
MEB Energy, one of the losing bidders in the tender worth over R100-million, brought a lawsuit against Ndlambe Municipality last week, alleging corruption in the tender process after their representatives were asked for a R1-milion bribe by someone claiming to work for the municipal manager.
MEB Energy also said it was inexplicable that the winning bidder, Quality Filtration Systems (QFS), had a price almost R90-million lower than theirs.
The tender was for a 2 megalitre (ML) plant, for which MEB Energy submitted three options ranging in price from R132.3-million to R140.901-million. MEB further submitted options for 5ML plant, as it was known the municipality would want to upgrade the plant in due course.
QFS submitted a bid of R40.2-million and an alternative of R28.7-million for a 2ML plant.
According to the minutes of the bid adjudication committee, the tender was awarded for an amount of R111,254,827.
The municipality was in the process of concluding a service level agreement with QFS.
MEB asked for an interdict against the implementation of the tender award pending an application to review and set aside the award.
The municipality opposed MEB’s application. QFS did not appoint legal counsel to represent them in court.
Judge Judith Roberson said MEB had satisfied requirements for interim relief, interdicting and restraining the municipality and QFS from in any way continuing with, implementing or performing under the tender, including any contract concluded pursuant thereto.
Parties asked for an expedited date for the review hearing considering the pressing need for water relief in Port Alfred. It was postponed to March 17.
Read the full story in next week’s Talk of the Town.