Milupi Accused of Breaching Tender Process in Ndola-Sakania-Mufulira-Mokambo Road PPP Upgrading Project
Bidders who participated in the tender process for the Ndola-Sakania-Mufulira-Mokambo Road Public-Private Partnership (PPP) upgrading project have expressed shock after Minister of Infrastructure and Urban Development, Hon. Charles Milupi, announced that the government had concluded discussions with a private entity for the project. The bidders, who were shortlisted as final for the PPP procurement model and passed through both financial and technical evaluation, have expressed concern that pre-signing negotiations are being done with a new private consortium that did not participate in the tender.
In 2022, the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry received an unsolicited bid to upgrade the Sakanya border facilities and access road. The unsolicited bid was reviewed using the provisions of the Public-Private Partnership Act No. 14 of 2009 as amended. The Ministry then submitted competing sector entities for the finance, build, operate, and transfer of the border facilities at Sakanya and Mokambo, as well as for the construction of the Ndola-Sakanya-Mufulira-Mokambo road. On April 4th, 2022, the Public-Private Partnership Council of Ministers approved the viability of the project proposal.
The total roadworks proposed for construction cover 86.8 km broken down into four sections, including the construction of two ultra-modern one-border posts at Sakanya and Mokambo border posts, access road, and the Ndola-Sakanya-Mufulira-Mokambo road. This road is the shortest route for cargo transiting from south-eastern SADC ports to south-eastern DRC. Currently, auxiliary support infrastructure at both Sakania and Mokambo border posts is in a state of disrepair and is inadequate. The infrastructure is a bottleneck without improvement. The border posts lack modern facilities for customs and immigration inspection, potentially paving the way for grave problems of smuggling of goods. The border posts also pose a very high risk of human and drug trafficking and other vices.
On May 6th, 2022, the Ministry advertised for competing proposals in the national public and private media, and the closing deadline was June 30th, 2022. A multi-sectoral team of experts from ministries, ZRA, Immigration, and law enforcement agencies evaluated both financial and technical proposals. The team further evaluated if bidders or members of the consortium had any legal, immigration, or professional encumbrances. Sunshare Construction, in association with China Railway Construction Engineering Group and CRJE East Africa, was responsive to all the parameters of the bid and scored the highest. They were followed by Jiayou International Logistics, the firm that had put up the unsolicited bid. Zambia (IP) Border Crossing (ZIPBCC), which was running Kasumbalesa Border Post and had previously held a ten-year PPP with ZRA, came third in their bid. Citizen for Better Environment, a Zambian Consortium that had partnered with China Geo-Engineering Group and Iliso, came out number four. Citizen for Better Environment had secured $76 million from China and a financing model involving NAPSA and WCFCB.
However, it has emerged that the Ministry of Infrastructure and Road Development Agency have submitted a new and different proposal outside the publicly tendered process. The parties that participated in the long tender approved by the Public-Private Partnership Council of Ministers are likely to go to court if the tender is illegally given to Hon. Milupi new entities