Fiu bridge saga ends in MARA gov’t favour

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The Fiu River Bridge
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By EDDIE OSIFELO

MALAITA province’s stand to reject the sole bidder, China Harbour Engineering Company to upgrade Fiu River Bridge on Malaita Province has turned out ‘victorious.

This after the Solomon Islands Roads and Aviation Project (SIRAP) under the Ministry of Communication and Aviation (MCA) and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development (MID) issued a rejection letter to the proposer last week.

The issue of the rejection letter completes the procurement process.

It is believed the proposer is CHEC, who has submitted its proposal for the design and construction of the Fiu Bridge.

According to well-placed sources, CHEC’s proposal was proposal was evaluated and found to be technically responsive and fully qualified, in accordance with the World Bank Procurement Regulations.

The proposal was accompanied by a bid validity statement which expires in July 2021.

However, SIRAP’s National Steering Committee (NSC), following careful consideration of funding sources to meet the proposed price, recommended to MCA and MID to reject the proposal.

Well-placed sources claimed the decision of the NSC was related to the stand of Malaita Province against the proposer to carry out the construction.

The province continues to stand by the spirit of the Auki Communique to ensure that developments in Malaita province when it comes to roads and bridges are of quality and not sub-standards.

The Solomon Islands Government has allocated SB$30m under the Economic Stimulus Package (ESP) towards the Fiu River Bridge. The total estimated cost of the Fiu River Bridge is SB$42m with the difference to be funded through the MID 2021 Development Budget.

Contributions from the ESP, the MID 2021 Development Budget and the World Bank Grant and Credit agreements were all considered.

According to SIRAP in a press release, the World Bank Procurement Regulations were followed in an open and transparent process. These same procurement regulations are used all over the world to deliver infrastructure projects.

During its deliberations, the NSC noted that under the World Bank Procurement Regulations the budget cost estimate is not an upper limit for the contract amount and so proposals are not automatically rejected if they are higher than the budget cost estimate.

A survey of international contractors who did not bid showed a reluctance to participate due to a heavy construction workload from a number of infrastructure projects leading up to South Pacific Games 2023 and the impacts of COVID19 restrictions.

Australian-based company SMEC was supporting SIRAP in the procurement of Fiu River Bridge.

The NSC is continuing to consider options for the future replacement of this very importance piece of infrastructure.


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