Questions on bidding process
PANAMA. Criticism regarding an alleged favoritism towards the Chinese bidding company Higer Bus Company Limited in the tender process f...
PANAMA. Criticism regarding an alleged favoritism towards the Chinese bidding company Higer Bus Company Limited in the tender process for the purchase of the buses to replace the country’s Diablo rojos has led to calls for its suspension.
Higer Bus Company was given a 48 hour period to correct eight mistakes it had in its bidding proposal, raising suspicions in the civil society.
According to Miguel Antonio Bernal, candidate for Panama City’s mayor’s office, suspending the tender process would be the healthiest way to make sure there is transparency, seeing as it has raised too many questions and speculations.
Bernal believes that there was an initial inclination towards the Chinese company, and that everything points out to the fact that it was a “scam,” with the blessing of the Presidency.
Lucia Perea, representative of the transport users, coincides with Bernal, certain that the Higer company should have been dismissed from the bidding process for the many mistakes in its application.
“I think the government went for the cheap, but everyone knows that cheap things end up being expensive.”
Additionally, the Mercedes and Volvo buses are well-known, whereas the Higer ones are not, she explained.
Perea fears the Higer buses could end up being of poor quality.
Carlos Harris, former director of the Transit and Terrestrial Transport Authority (ATTT), believes the rushed way the tender process has been held is the reason behind the companies’ mistakes in their proposals.
Harris thinks that transportation is an important issue for Panamanians, so there should be transparency in the process because there is a lot of money in the game, which justifies the suspension of the bidding process.
The lawyer of the victims of the October 23 bus accident and of others involved in accidents with Diablo rojos, Victor Martinez, who has submitted two lawsuits against the Transmovil project, reiterated his threat of suing the winning bidder.
As for the bus owners, Mariano Gonzalez qualified the bidding process as a “sancocho”, and is not surprised by the present situation.
“I have been warning against it for a while now, Chinese buses are not going to fulfill expectations, because they are not going to last long. The reason is that the are assembled in one place with parts from another.
“I suggest to the government and President Martin Torrijos to leave the project for the next administration so that things are done as they should be,” he stated.
Esperanza Mena, member of up and coming Foundation for the Protection of Users, said that the public act should be suspend because of the mistakes made, believing that the ATTT should call for a consultation meeting.
According to Mena, the bidding process required more time, and a proof of that is the few meetings that were held.
In 2008 there was one on November 27, followed by one on December 4 and 9. No meetings were held in January.