Electoral team in dilemma over new poll tools tender
Posted Friday, June 15 2012 at 22:30
A project expected to show a voter’s photo on screen before they can vote is in jeopardy after a tender row hit the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
There are fears the Sh3 billion Biometric Voter Registration project may collapse, at least for now, after doubts regarding the top two companies in the tender.
The commission is worried that none of the two companies had proved that they have the financial and human muscle to deliver at least 2,000 poll kits in the next three weeks to be used in training election officials.
Some 9,750 poll kits— which include a laptop, printer, finger print reader, battery, and solar— are required for the polls.
To further deepen the commission’s tender dilemma, the firm that came tops, 4G Identity Solutions Ltd from India, was one of the companies suspended by the Unique Identification Authority of India for failing to comply with rules of issuing identification cards.
The suspension was announced by the Indian Minister of State for planning, Mr Ashwani Kumar, on May 3 in New Delhi, according to local media reports.
Further, official diplomatic letters from the Asia and Australia Directorate at the Kenyan ministry of Foreign Affairs have on two occasions warned that the firm should not be allowed to carry out business with any government or institution across the world.
The letters, one by Mr John Lanyasunya on May 31, 2012 and another by Mr Ali Abass five days later, categorically stated the company was unfit to conduct business with the electoral commission.
Kenyan firm Symphony was second but was said to lack the capacity to carry out the assignment due to inexperience.
Documents seen by Saturday Nation revealed that Face Technologies of South Africa and On Track Innovations from Israel came third and fourth.
However, the commission said their bids were too expensive.
“While the first company raised queries on its legal status, the second raised capacity and competence ones while the last two were very expensive,”
An electoral commission official added: “The Israeli company, for example, would charge about a 100 per cent more than the lowest bidder even though they would have the best capacity.”
A total of 29 local and international companies sought the job.
On Wednesday, electoral commission chief executive James Oswago admitted there were issues that were still being investigated about the top companies but declined not reveal the details.
The commission now faces a dilemma of not awarding the tender and fully investigate the companies or save time and issue the tender to a company that is not fully compliant.
Saturday Nation has also learnt from a reliable source that the commission sent three officials to India for a ground search on 4G Identity Solutions and verify its authenticity.
Key partners, United Nations Development Programme and the International Fund for Electoral Systems, also sent representatives to India.
The team came back into the country on Tuesday.