Dar road works at risk as WB bans 3 firms The three companies, which are involved in multimillion-dollar road and bridge construction works in the country, have already been handed letters to explain their involvement in the bribery scandal in Philippine. Photo/FILE By WILFRED EDWIN THE EAST AFRICAN Posted Friday, January 23 2009 at 20:38 Over 1,000 kilometres of road works worth millions of dollars may come to a halt as it emerges that Tanzania is almost certain to slap a 10-year-ban on three blacklisted Chinese engineering and construction firms over a procurement bribery scandal in the Philippines. On January 14, the World Bank announced the debarment of seven firms - including the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, the China Road and Bridge Corporation, and the China Geo-Engineering Corporation - and one individual on suspicion of engaging in collusive practices under a major Bank-financed roads project in the Philippines. Two of the debarments are permanent, the strongest possible sanction. The debarments prevent the parties from bidding on future World Bank-financed contracts. They resulted from an inquiry by the World Bank's Integrity Vice Presidency responsible for investigating allegations of fraud and corruption in Bank-financed operations. Tanzania Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) regulations bar not only international firms doing jobs in the country but also those blacklisted in another country for being involved in the procurement irregularities. The ban on the three firms would forbid them from undertaking any local construction jobs or tendering for any new construction work in the country. The three companies, which are involved in multimillion-dollar road and bridge construction works in the country, have already been handed letters to explain their involvement in the bribery scandal in Philippine. The PPRA said last week that any internationally blacklisted construction or consulting firms are automatically barred from working in Tanzania for a specified period of time. China Geo-Engineering Corporation has been awarded various jobs including designing and building the 40-kilometre Manyoni-Isuna road in central Tanzania in a contract worth Tsh30.2 billion ($23 million). Another is the upgrading of the 120km Kyamyorwa–Buzirayombo road in the western zone of Tanzania on a contract worth Tsh50 billion ($38.4 million). Both contracts are financed by the Tanzanian government. China Geo-Engineering Corporation was also in the final stages of completing the $26.8 million Unity Bridge connecting Tanzania and Mozambique. In a report made available to The EastAfrican last week, Ephraem Mrema, chief executive officer of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) said the firm was still working on phase one of the 125km Chalinze-Tanga highway. Mr Mrema said Tanzania expects to construct 1,383.5 kilometres of roads in various regions. The roads are at the design stage. A government source said that the three companies would to be asked to complete the ongoing road works. The three Chinese firms will therefore be disqualified from bidding for some eight projects in the pipeline, for a length of 890.3km worth Tsh521.61 billion ($400.8 million), whose preparations have been completed, but await signing of agreements. A senior official with PPRA told The EastAfrican in Dar es Salaam last week that the authority is mandated to blacklist and bar, a supplier, contractor or consultant from participating in public procurement proceedings. "PPRA puts an additional maximum of 10 years to the punishment of corruption and fraud. For non-corruption cases, it would add up to five years to a supplier, contractor or consultant that is found to have been blacklisted and barred from taking part in public procurement by a foreign country," said the official. The World Bank on January 14 this year banned the three Chinese international firms from vying for new construction jobs on charges of fraud and corruption. The firms are thus no longer eligible for a World Bank-financed contract for periods of between five to eight years The three firms have executed numerous multibillion-dollar projects not only in Tanzania, but also in many other African countries such as Kenya and Angola. The China Road and Bridge Corporation has been debarred for eight years, but the debarment can be reduced or terminated after five years if the firm puts in place a compliance programme satisfactory to the World Bank. China State Construction Corporation and China Wu Yi Co Ltd, were each debarred for six years. China Geo-Engineering Corporation was debarred for five years. This can be reduced or lifted after three years. The World Bank said last week that the investigation uncovered evidence of a major cartel involving local and international firms bidding on contracts under Phase I of the Philippines National Roads Improvement and Management Programme. The Contractor's Registration Board of Tanzania last week said that it had taken no action against the blacklisted firms because locally, they had not acted against the law of the country or gone against PPRA regulations. A commercial attaché at the Chinese embassy in Dar es Salaam said that he could not comment on the matter, because "he was not aware of it." According to the World Bank regulations, in the case of debarred firms, ineligibility extends to any firm or individual, which controls the debarred firm or any firm in any way, which the debarred firm directly or indirectly controls. For a debarred individual, ineligibility extends to any firm, which the debarred individual directly or indirectly controls.