TSTT House, Port of Spain. – FILE PHOTO
The Urban Development Corporation of TT (Udecott) has said an error in its e-Tender system on the part of the service provider, Telecommunications Services of TT (TSTT), meant that a tender uploaded before the deadline date was not registered when the e-Tender box was opened.
It said all affected tenderers were notified of the situation, and no queries were raised.
In a release, Udecott said a request for a proposal for the redevelopment of the central block at the Port of Spain General Hospital (PoSGH) was sent to five companies: Yorke Structures Ltd, Steel Structures Ltd, Universal Structures Ltd, Metal-X Engineering Ltd, and Francis-Lau Construction Ltd. It said the latter two indicated they would not submit proposals.
Udecott said the tender process closed on May 20, at 4 pm, after which no further tender submissions could be made. It said the e-Tender box was opened at 4.05 pm and showed successful submissions from Yorke Structures Ltd and Steel Structures Ltd.
However, it said its e-Tender server logs showed that receipts were issued for the successful upload of three tender submissions on May 20: Yorke Structures Ltd at 11.47 am; Universal Structures Ltd at 12.16 pm; and Steel Structures Ltd at 2.24 pm.
Udecott said it immediately contacted TSTT about the discrepancy and received an e-mail at 6.13 pm which confirmed that three tender submissions had been received on May 20 at the times listed.
It said a meeting was held on May 23 with all three companies which had submitted proposals, the situation was explained and no queries were raised.
Udecott said it accepted TSTT’s written explanation on May 26.
This said: “TSTT directly attributes this to a temporary disruption in internet connectivity during the upload process,” which led to the online e-Tender register initially showing two tender submissions, as opposed to the three which were successfully uploaded.
“Udecott stands resolute that there were no amendments to submissions made by any of the three proponents. The last submission was made at 2.24 pm on May 20, 2022, and there were no submissions or modifications to any submissions thereafter.”
Speaking to Newsday, Udecott chairman Noel Garcia said the tender process was scrupulously followed, and so the issue of restarting the bidding process did not arise. He said the contract was awarded to Universal Structures Ltd, as it had submitted the lowest tender.
In its letter to Udecott, TSTT said its system audit logs showed three submissions were received.
“However, as it relates to Udecott’s inability to access the bid submission for Universal Structures Ltd, TSTT directly attributes this to a temporary disruption in internet connectivity during the upload process which prevented the generation of a unique reference key used to create a record of a vendor’s entry on the application’s database.”
It said this resulted in no data being displayed on the tender graph, nor on the front end as a successful upload, and nothing listed in the vendor listing to be opened. It said it made the file available to Udecott, updated the tender standing graph to reflect the vendor’s bid price, and updated the status of the vendor’s bid submission to “Complete.”
Speaking at the UNC’s weekly Sunday press briefing at the Office of the Opposition Leader, Port of Spain, MP Dr Roodal Moonilal called on Udecott to restart the bidding process because of the glitch in the tender process.
“Nobody else had this problem except the third bidder. Yet they had a glitch and the proposal didn’t come in on the e-platform.
“So the first two (bids), which Udecott opened and you saw the amounts and data of these two bidders, now a third bidder’s documents came in late. So that company could have already known the contents of the two bids,” Moonilal argued, reiterating that he was casting no aspersions on anyone or any company.
“This deserves a full, independent inquiry, because there is now the issue that a third bidder appears to have been the successful bidder.”