Controversies are trailing the move to award the International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN), contract to a healthcare company, MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited, a property development company by the ministry of transportation.
The Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), has denounced the move and described the process as embarrassing and illegal adding that the contract was awarded in clear breach of the Public Procurement Act 2007.
The International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) scheme is an electronic cargo verification system that monitors the shipment of seaborne cargo and enables a real-time generation of vital data on ship and cargo traffic in and out of Nigeria.
The minister of transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, is said to have relied on anticipatory approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to award the said contract, emphasising national security and economic benefits.
The scheme was first muted during the administration of President Umaru Yar-Adua, however, the contract between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and an operator, TPMS-Antaser-Afrique was abruptly terminated by former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in October 2011.
The Ministry of Transportation in a memo dated August 26, 2021, to the Bureau of Public Procurement said Nigeria will continue to lose revenue, worsen the country’s maritime security situation, and allow alteration of cargoes and under-declaration if the contract is not awarded.
A document sighted by our correspondent showed that, on September 11, 2020, the Minister sought the approval of the BPP to conduct a restricted/selected tendering exercise to engage agents or partners for the implementation of the cargo tracking note scheme.
The BPP, it was learnt, rejected the selective tender request because of the need to regain international confidence, and, instead, asked the Transport Ministry to conduct international competitive bidding (ICB).
The BPP in a memo dated October 22, 2020 stated, “This (ICB) was to ensure that experienced international firms with high reputation, integrity, and capacity to deliver participate in the procurement process.”
The BPP noted in a separate memo that the transport ministry on August 26, 2021, reverted to it with an approval dated August 19, 2021 from the president to adopt a direct procurement in favour of MedTech Scientific Limited, in partnership with Rozi International Nigeria Limited, a property development company.
Direct procurement is single sourcing of a contractor with no room for competition either in a selective exercise, which invites interests from a restricted number of companies to express interest and compete.