Awake Investigate has uncovered potential procurement irregularities at the Dambai College of Education, in the Volta Region, in which a supplier, Madam Dzifa Justa who quoted GH¢20,000 less than the contract price for the supply of Palm Oil (Dzomi) was passed over for a competitor with a higher quote for the same product.
A letter dated 2nd March, 2017 and signed by the Procurement Officer, who chaired the Tender Evaluation Committee, simply stated that her
“I write to notify you that you are unable to win the contract for the supply of Dzomi (Palm Oil). The Contract was awarded to T.F Ventures at a contract price of GH¢9.00 per bottle.”
Our checks revealed that Madam Dzifa who has been supplying Palm Oil to the College since 2007 had quoted GH¢7.00 per bottle bringing her total bidding sum to GH¢70,000.00 while the winner of the bid quoted GH¢9.00 per bottle with a total contract sum of GH¢90,000.
According to the Public Procurement Act (Act 663), it is not always the case that the bidder with the lowest price wins the tender but that there should be “Value for Money”.
This “Value for Money” provision in the law requires that a clear case is made by the awarding authority, that is the tender committee, to rationalize the what is the winner bringing on board to warrant the additional cost of GH¢20,000.00 that the loser of the bid could not offer. When Awake Investigative team enquired from the Principal of Dambai College of Education, Mr. Musah Yamba Issahako in an interview, he said that although he was not part of the tender committee, the reason given by the tender committee suggested that the supplier who lost the bid had been providing unsatisfactory services to the college in the past.
He alleged that the loser of the bid had been providing quality samples during tender exhibition, but supplied fake products during the actual supplies.
When the principal was asked if had any documented evidence (a protest letter) to show that the college had ever protested about services of the supplier, the principal replied he was not sure. When the Principal was asked if he could produce the tender evaluation report to Awake investigators to ascertain the recommendations of the committee, he directed our team to the procurement office.
Our checks from the procurement office of the college revealed that there had not been any documented evidence to show that the supplier had been providing substandard or fake products to the college.
In addition, Awake investigations found that the supplier who lost the bid met all procurement requirements and passed all sample test – meaning she was a possible winner of the tender.
According to the tender committee, the only issue that came up against the woman’s previous supply was a verbal complaint by the Matron of the college (end user of the palm oil) who is a non-voting member of the Tender Evaluation Committee on the Supply of Palm Oil. The Matron reportedly accused the woman of supplying a factory produced palm oil instead of a Hand Made Produced Palm Oil.
When the Tender Committee checked from the store of the college, it was revealed that the said alleged “factory produced palm” had once been detected two years back but no letter had been issued to her about that issue.
Under the procurement law and procedures, if a product supplied is proved to be fake or substandard, the end user (the College) had every right to reject the product and supplier made to supply the accepted product or lose the contract.
The procurement officer declined to disclose the full recommendations of the report to management and also declined to provide the report to Awake Investigators for independent study.
Meanwhile Awake Investigate has been reviewing the reporting systems of the college, including the college’s grievance and complaints system to determine whether any tutors and students – past and present had ever detected their food was made with fake palm oil. As Awake investigations continue into this matter, some have suggested that the decision of the tender committee might have been overturned by some invisible hands within the college.
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