A Kuwaiti-French consortium has brought a lawsuit alleging discrepancies in the award of a tender for a $400-million water treatment project to their rivals, the group said Wednesday, April 4.
The lawsuit, a copy of which was made available to AFP, said "the tender award decision was illegal and violated the project's Tender Documents and Kuwait's Tenders Laws."
Kuwait's International Projects Development Co. (IPDCO), which bid for the project with French partners Vivendi Water and others, said it filed the suit last week at the administrative court, which has the power to overturn the decision.
A consortium comprising the local Khorafi group and US Ionics won the $400-million water project in January amid fierce competition from two other consortia comprising Kuwaiti and French companies.
The decision to award the first major build-operate-transfer (BOT) project was taken by the emirate's Central Tenders Committee (CTC), the body that awards all government contracts exceeding $325,000 in value.
The court is expected to begin looking into the case within the next two weeks. The lawsuit alleged that the winning consortium "was not qualified to submit its bid, as it did not abide by the stringent conditions set forth in the Tender Document." It said the technical partners who pre-qualified the winners in the first phase later withdrew from the consortium.
The winners have based their bid on "an old and outdated open air drying beds technology for sludge treatment" although the tender document required a state-of-the-art technology, the lawsuit said.
"The decision disregarded equality and public law, which are the fundamental basis of the CTC's own by laws ... The CTC's conducts fell short of truly safeguarding the right of other bidders to equal treatment," it said.
The winning consortium will build a sewage treatment plant in Sulaibiya, some 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of Kuwait City, and sell its output of treated water to the state for irrigation use.
Kuwait, a desert state, obtains more than 90 percent of its drinking water needs from five major water desalination and power plants, and the rest comes from underground brackish water. — (AFP, Kuwait City)
© Agence France Presse 2001
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