Civil Aviation Stalls N$48 Million Tender

THE Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) in the ministry of works and transport has reportedly refused to approve the acquisition of a N$48 million scanner, after it emerged that the company which was given the job, failed to meet requirements.

Although the DCA director, Angeline Simana-Paulo, could not confirm this yesterday, referring questions to Wendy Muller, who heads the aviation security department, the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) acting chief executive officer Tamar El-Kallawi confirmed the development to The Namibian on Friday.

The scanners for detecting metal objects in travellers’ luggage are supposed to be installed at checkpoints at Eros, Hosea Kutako, Walvis Bay and Ondangwa airports.

NAC first aertised the tender in 2012, but cancelled it in 2013 after the transport ministry had allegedly changed the scanners’ specifications.

When it was re-aertised, 19 companies submitted bids and CSS Security, Renaissance Technologies, Commercial Consultants, MampM Investments and IBB Military

Equipment and Accessories Supplier were shortlisted after submitting bids ranging from N$20 million to N$80 million.

Although all the companies said their units included the explosive device system (EDS), it later emerged that IBB, which was awarded the tender, was offering a system that was not EDS compatible.

Writing to El Kallawi on 19 September last year, Simana-Paulo suggested that the “companies which have reached the final stage of the tender process should be requested to give a presentation on the equipment”.

In the letter, of which The Namibian possesses a copy, Simana-Paulo also included some of the requirements such as approval by the European Union, United Kingdom, the European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC) and Transport Security Administration (TSA) as well as meeting “the present and future needs of each airport, including EDS”.

NAC senior manager in the operations and engineering department Courage Silombela, in an email dated 4 February 2014 and copied to El Kallawi and others, reveals that IBB offered XIS 6545, XIS 6545, XIS 100X and XIS 100X which are supposed to be supplied by a California-based company called Astrophysics Inc.

Silombela also wrote to Astrophysics Inc on 26 February this year inquiring about the EDS compatibility of the IBB unit, and was told by one of the company’s service technicians, Pierre Saldivar that the “units were not EDS capable”.

Furthermore, Silombela asked if the units were upgradable and Saldivar wrote back: “Short answer, No, we apologise for any inconvenience.”

Despite this, the NAC board, according to minutes of a meeting signed by the company secretary Valeria Kambarami held on 21 February 2014, awarded the tender to IBB, and El Kallawi informed the company three days later that they had been given the tender.

El Kallawi last week said if the machines do not meet the requirements, then they were misled.

“The staff members had communicated to me that the machine does not meet the requirements, meaning we were misled,” he said, adding that NCA can easily sue or pull out of the deal since the contract had not been signed yet.

“When we saw it is not EDS (compatible), we went to the DCA and tried to confirm with the company itself,” said El Kallawi. “We met the DCA last week and we are now sure that the company has EDS, because some of the guys from the company came from America to confirm last week Thursday,” said El Kallawi.

When contacted yesterday, Silombela said the answers he got from Astrophysics Inc were wrong and given by a technician who had partial knowledge of what was being asked.

“They came to do a presentation clarifying the email and gave the EDS certificate,” Silombela said from Johannesburg.

IBB managing director Muhammed Omar declined to comment, but requested for a meeting with The Namibian next week.

Muller referred queries to the transport ministry spokesperson, Grace Mubonenwa or the ministry’s permanent secretary, Peter Mwatile who responded to questions in an email yesterday.

Mwatile said the ministry and the DCA were not part of the tender process but that the NAC had approached the DCA on aise for the requirements in line with the National Civil Aviation Security.

“The DCA was never part of the tender process and therefore, we are unable to confirm whether or not the requirements meet the DCA requirements,” said Mwatile.

Source : The Namibian