NITDB’s bid cancellation raises brows

Kathmandu, January 31

Nepal Intermodal Transport Development Board (NITDB) — the government agency that oversees operation of dry ports and integrated check posts — has cancelled the bid of management contract of Kakadvitta dry port at the 11th hour last week.

The decision of the board to cancel the bid after massive participation of bidders to take the management contract of the dry port has raised eyebrows. However, NITDB has said that it has cancelled the bid to change some procedures so that domestic bidders can also compete with international bidders.

NITDB had barred international companies to team up with Nepali joint ventures in the criteria this time. Only international bidders were able to compete in the bid as per the criteria set by the NITDB.

“As NITDB was supposed to deal with international bidders after opening the bid documents, cancellation of the bid affects its credibility and decision-makers,” a high-level source privy to this development told The Himalayan Times.

The government agency, which is in the process of transforming its structure to that of an authority from the current board status, is involved in managing some dry ports. Experts have suggested that NITDB should be developed as regulator citing there could be clash of interests when the same agency regulates terminal management companies and itself operates and/or manages some ports.

A majority of the dry ports are being operated under management contract. However, NITDB surprised the bidders at the last moment in the case of Kakadvitta’s management contract bid.

“If the issue goes to the international court, if will harm the institution as it could be penalised for haphazard decisions breaching the procedures,” a source claimed.

However, Laxman Bahadur Basnet, executive director of NITDB, said that the board cancelled the bid as it is preparing to be developed as an authority instead of remaining in the existing structure of a board. NITDB was formed under the Formation Order of the government.

“Once NITDB is transformed to an authority, it will issue the bid notice by providing level playing field to local bidders too,” said Basnet, citing that it cannot do so during the bid evaluation at present as per the provision of the Formation Order.