House panel seeks clarification from transport ministry

Kathmandu, September 6

The Development Committee of the Legislature-Parliament has sought clarification from the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) for not awarding the contract for printing embossed number plates to the lowest bidder.

The meeting of the committee, held here today, has asked the Department of Transport Management (DoTM), under MoPIT, to clarify to the House panel and defend its decision to award the embossed number printing contract to a higher bidder.

With a view to introduce embossed plating system for vehicles in Nepal, DoTM had called for a global tender in November last year for printing embossed number plates and had received four applications from foreign companies. However, the earlier decision of DoTM to award the embossed number plate printing contract to Decatur Tiger IT — the second lowest bidder — has raised eyebrows of the lawmakers.

Decatur Tiger IT, a joint venture company of the US and Bangladesh, had submitted a proposal to print embossed number plates at $40.5 million, whereas JKG Consortium — the lowest bidder for the project — had submitted an application to the government to complete the project at $29.6 million.

The other two applicants — SELP SAS of France and Computer Services of Bangladesh — had submitted applications to the government with project cost of $45 million and $42 million, respectively.

“Introducing embossed number plates is a good move in the domestic transportation sector. However, it seems that the project has not been awarded to the appropriate bidder because the lowest bidder should get the contract as per existing laws,” said Rabindra Adhikari, chairman of the Development Committee.

DoTM had awarded the contract to Decatur Tiger IT a year back during tenure of then director general Chandra Man Shrestha. While awarding the contract, Shrestha had said that the proposal of Decatur Tiger IT was both technically and financially feasible.

Despite repeated attempts by The Himalayan Times, Shrestha was unavailable for comment today.

While the current DoTM Director General Roop Narayan Bhattarai is reluctant to talk on the issue citing that the contract was awarded by the previous director general, MoPIT is of the view that focus should be given to effective implementation of embossed number plating system on vehicles.

DoTM had introduced the embossed number plates in Nepal from August 2, targeting only government vehicles in the first phase.

“As the contract has already been awarded and the company has started its work, we should rather give priority to make the embossed number plating system more effective,” said Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Bir Bahadur Balayar.

Meanwhile, the Development Committee has also directed the government to immediately set up data centres, control room, satellite connections, RFID stickers, readable devices and towers, which are important to keep record of the embossed numbers of vehicles.

Similarly, the committee also directed the government to immediately start distributing vehicle number plates on the basis of provinces bypassing the zonal basis being implemented currently.