PPRA strikes down NTDC-approved Tarbela-V transmission line tender


The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) has termed tender approved by National Transmission and Despatch Company (NTDC) for laying 500KV Double Circuit Transmission Line as mis-procurement.

The transmission utility has been held responsible for ignoring rules and regulation in the evaluation process for the procurement of design, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of 500KV double circuit transmission line from Tarbela-5th Extension to Islamabad West Substation.

In its order dated September 21, 2022, PPRA noted that “keeping in view the above Rule position, provisions of the bidding documents and available record produced by the parties in the subject Appeal, it has been observed that the prequalification of the bidders has not been carried out by the procuring agency (NTDC) by using the criteria and requirement defined in Section 111, Qualification Criteria and Requirements (clause 4.2 a) for evaluating the qualifications of the Applicants.”

Moreover, the procuring agency was under obligation to determine the eligibility of the joint venture from past experience regarding financial value of the single contract of each partner. The Respondent No 02 (M/s NETRACON) has not met the specified qualification requirements, ie the minimum value of a single contract of $24 million independently undertaken by the bidder instead of aggregated.

The procedure adopted by the procuring agency (NTDC) for prequalification of bidders is contrary to the requirements and criteria prescribed in the bidding documents and amounts to mis­-procurement.

The committee further observed that the procuring agency was under obligation to follow the criteria and timeline for seeking any clarification. But in the instant case, the procuring agency sought clarification after expiry of stipulated period.

The committee members also highlighted that in terms of Part-1 “Prequalification Procedures” (Clause 25.1) of the Bidding Documents, “the Employer use the factors, methods, criteria, and requirements defined in Section III, Qualification Criteria and Requirements, to evaluate the qualifications of the Applicants, and no other methods, criteria, or requirements shall be used” and in terms of Part-1 “Prequalification Procedures” (Clause 27.1) of the Bidding Documents, “All applicants whose application substantially meets or exceed the specified qualification requirements will be prequalified by the Employer.”

The committee also emphasised Clause 30.2 ITA under Section-1: which states that a substantially responsive bid is one that meets the requirements of the bidding document without material deviation, reservation or omission. A material deviation, reservation or omission is one that: (a) If accepted, would: i) Affect in any substantial way the scope, quality, or performance of the plant and installation services specified in the contract; or Limit in any substantial way, inconsistent with the bidding documents, the employer’s rights or the bidder’s obligations under the proposed Contract; or (b) If rectified, would unfairly affect the competitive position of other bidders presenting substantially responsive bid.

In its order, PPRA also observed that the applicant failed in timely raise its objection with the procuring agency and hence was not entitled to get remedial measures.

In this scenario, sources said that NTDC has been left with the challenging option of retendering the project, which might delay its execution. In such a scenario, the transmission utility might face huge penalty. Therefore, as per provisions concerned, NTDC might choose the option of awarding the project to the remaining responsive bidder.

It may be noted that Tarbela 5th Extension will further increase the power generating capacity of Tarbela by 1,410MW to a grand total of 6,298MW. The construction of Tarbela 5th Extension Hydropower Project is being undertaken under three international competitive bidding contracts ie Civil Engineering Works, Electromechanical (EM) Works and the 500kV Transmission Line. The power line is stated to be completed within 24 months after award of the contract.

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