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Hospital solar power project executed at exorbitant price

KABUL (Pajhwok): At least eight contracts have been inked for the supply of solar power to wards of the main hospital in northern Sar-i-Pul province. Contracts for two wards have been repeated and the one kilowatt ampere deal is 766,000 afghanis higher than the market rate.

The issue has been referred to the National Procurement Authority (NPA) after an internal investigation by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH).

Copies of the Sar-i-Pul Health Department’s proposals show that four companies offered prices of solar energy supply to emergency and pediatric wards, X-ray department and men’s operation theatre.

The proposals were signed by Noorul Haq Murad Jalis, former acting director of the Sar-i-Pul health department, on September 8, 2018, and sent to the MoPH for approval.

The ministry approved the proposals, saying that, a contract should be signed with the company offering the lowest price in accordance with the Procurement Law.

At the end of the order from the ministry, Mamusi Ziwar, former deputy minister of finance and administration, put his signature.

The documents show the Jahan Design Construction Company which was awarded the contract, had offered the lowest rate of 18,376,000 afghanis.

But about four months later, the Sar-i-Pul Public Health Department sent to the ministry for approval a letter, signed by Jalis. It contains prices of five other companies for solar power for the four branches of the hospital. Two of them were repeated.

The four areas include administrative and emergency rooms, as well as operation theatres for men and women. But bids for two of them (emergency and men’s operating rooms) were called again. These departments were also included in the initial agreement.

Mamusi also approved the proposals, saying that the company offering the lowest price should be contracted in accordance with the Procurement Law.

The proposals were registered on January 5, 2019. One again, the Jahan Design Construction Company won the bidding, offering a price of 36,752,000 afghanis.

However Mamosi Zewar said all the solar power supply to the hospital should have been ensured in a single project and under one contract.

She called the Sar-i-Pul Public Health Department’s proposals illegal and asked why the suggestions had been ordered, he says: “…. Here the leadership has been kept in the dark.”

According to Zewar, when the leadership came to know, it referred the matter to the ministry’s internal audit department and stopped payments. The issue has now been referred to the National Procurement Authority.

Murad Jalis, former director of Sar-i-Pul health department, said: “It was the work of the procurement committee and I only signed the contract after it was prepared so I don’t know about the details and technical issues.”

Pajhwok asked Jalis about the division of the projects, he said: “It may not have happened because the two blocks were given electricity separately. At the same time, the ministries of finance and public health also agreed on this.

Payment to companies suspended

The total cost of the contracts is more than 220.5 million afghanis, but the company has received 36 million Afghanis.

Noor Mohammad Ishaqzai, the current public health director who was appointed last year, said: “I don’t know about the contracts of 36 million afs and 18 million afs. But we have documents of 18 million afs projects, having eight parts.

“By the time I took over, it was done… after the contractor did his work, he approached us and we sent allocation proposals to the ministry based on the documents and work.”

Without giving details, he added the ministry withheld funding for the projects after the matter was referred for an internal audit, But the Jahan Design Construction Company has already received money for its work for the two departments.

He continued: “I rejected allocations for the two departments last year and the ministry should not implement the allocations as long as contract issues are not resolved.”

Aziz Firdos, acting head of the Sar-i-Pul revenue department, verified the company had received more than 36 million afghanis for the work it had done in the emergency and pediatric wards of the hospital.

Power cost 6 times higher than market rate:

Documents singed by the Jahan Construction Company and stamped by the provincial coordination department at MoPH show 20 KV power was considered for each of the four wards.

The documents indicate the company will provide one kilowatt ampere of electricity to the four wards, each costing more than 18 million afghanis. One kilowatt ampere thus costs 918,800 afghanis.

Pajhwok could not obtain any information about the one kilowatt ampere level of the other four departments whose contracts were worth more than 36 million afghanis.

Naqiullah, the head of a Kabul-based solar power company called Rana, and Eng. Zahid, the Vista Electric Power Company chief, told Pajhwok the projects implemented by the firms included a kilowatt ampere energy-powered battery providing for 152,000 afghanis.

They explained a kilowatt ampere of electricity could also be provided for 90,000 afghanis, below the price cite, but it did not have the battery storage facility.

Considering the prices, one kilowatt ampere of electricity has been provided to the hospital at a rate more than 766,000 afghanis higher than the market price. Jalis said he did not know why the prices were so different.

Dastgeer Nazari, a spokesman for the MoPH, said the issue of providing solar power to the hospital in Sar-i-Pul had been investigated by the ministry’s internal audit department and referred to the National Procurement Authority.

He promised the issue should be taken to the judiciary and violators would be dealt in line with the law.

Pajhwok also received a copy of the letter, which was sent to NPA by MoPH. The letter reads, according the paragraph 6th of the article three of the Procurement Law states that when an agreement is divided into sections, the matter needs to be referred to the NPA for investigation and decision.

It adds: “In response to the request of a joint delegation of the finance and accounts department, the Sar-i-Pul Public Health Department did not mention the budget for the solar projects for the hospital wards.

“But the ministry suggested the company’s money be sent to the Revenue Department and the firm is also trying to receive it, Due to discrepancies in documents, cash difference and relocation of the solar system, the matter should be referred to the judiciary.”

Ramin Ayaz, a spokesman for NPA, confirmed the letter’s receipt. The official said it would share details with the media after a thorough investigation.

This report has been produced by Pajhwok and financially supported by UNDP and Denmark.

sa/mud

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