Communications Authority (CAK) Caught Pants Down In Bottled Water Tender Scandal

By The Weekly Vision Team

Attempts by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK) to cancel a tender reserved for persons living with disabilities hit a dead end after the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board ordered the evaluation committee to proceed with the tender to its logical conclusion.

The Communications Authority of Kenya had advertised tender No. CA/SCM/OT/03/2023-2024 for supply and delivery of bottled drinking water to CA Center and regional offices, a tender that was reserved for PLWD’s owned firms. The deadline for the tender opening was April 4, 2023. During the opening tender on October 4, 2023, 16 tenderers were recorded as having submitted their respective tenders. At the end of the evaluation stage, 15 firms were found to be unresponsive, with only one tender from Jampuam Company Ltd. qualifying to proceed to the financial evaluation stage.

Jane Rotich, Supply Chain Management at (CAK)

At the end of the evaluation stage, the evaluation committee found out that Jampuam’s tender was the lowest bidder and therefore qualified to be awarded the tender at Ksh. 24,560,400 against the CA’s budget of Ksh. 29,700,000. Accordingly, the evaluation committee recommended the award of the tender to Jampuam Company.

The committee also recommended the award of supply and delivery of branded 500-ml bottled water packed in a carton of 24 bottles when needed at a total cost of Ksh. 1,400 and that the prices would be valid for 3 years. However, in a professional opinion dated October 17, 2023, by the CA’s acting director, Supply Chain Management Jane Rotich, she noted that the quotation for hiring water dispensers was similar to that of buying a new dispenser at the market rate and that Jampuam’s quotation for branded IL reusable drinking water bottles was also above market rates.

Accordingly, Rotich recommended termination of the tender and retendering for the supply and delivery of drinking water. She also recommended that an outright purchase of dispensers with disposable cups and bottled water be competitively sourced under promotional items. On November 7, Jampuam’s Company requested a review. The Board, while challenging Cherotich’s claim that Ksh. 2,300n was on the higher side, conducted a market survey and found the contrary.

According to the head of procurement at Quickmart Supermarket, they quoted between Ksh. 200 and Ksh. 2,400 for unbranded bottles; Jampuam quoted Ksh. 2,400, which is within the range; Carrefour Supermarket quoted between Ksh. 1,950 and Ksh. 2,450 for unbranded bottles; and Naivas Supermarket quoted Ksh. 1,900.

Whereas Rotich’s remark that Jampuam’s quote of Ksh. 24,000 for the hire of water dispensers was above the market rate, but the board’s market analysis reveals otherwise. Naivas Supermarket presented two quotes of Ksh. 22,995 and Ksh. 24,995 for the Milka and Von brands, respectively. Jampuam had quoted Ksh. 24,000, which falls within the range. Carrefour also gave two quotations of Ksh. 21,399 and Ksh. 24,895 for Ramtoms and Von brands; Jampuam’s quote therefore falls within the range.

The ruling by the board dated November 28, 2023 reads, “From the foregoing, it is apparent that the conclusion that the head of procurement made in respect of the market survey was faulty.” Further, the board noted, “Accordingly, it was erroneous for a recommendation to be made to the respondent to terminate the procurement proceedings in the subject tender based on the faulty conclusions of the market survey.”.

The final orders read, “The respondent’s letter dated October 24, 2023, addressed to tenderers and terminating CA/SCM/OT/03/2023-2024 for supply and delivery of bottled drinking water at the CA center and regional offices, a tender which was reserved for PLWD’s owned firms, is hereby set aside.”.

The board further ordered CA to “ensure the tender proceeds to its lawful and logical conclusion, taking into account the findings of the board herein.”