Saturday , 21 September 2019

Meeting the ITS challenge in Delhi

Conditions of providing ‘unreasonable’ solutions and short completion time:

The project in-charge of a company said, “The solutions asked were unreasonable – they can never be realised the way Delhi Traffic Police has asked them to be carried out.” In its research TrafficInfraTech found that Siemens had brought it to the notice of the Traffic Police that no responsible company would bid if it doesn’t cater to the requirement. “Even the completion time was an issue. Initially, the Delhi Police wanted the project to be completed in 18 months but when nearly all the companies said it was impossible, they increased it to 24 months. Even that is not a very reasonable duration for such a huge project.”

No accountability in a committee:

A Transport expert who has been following this ITS tender process closely, said, “The tragedy in Indian scenario is that one person is never held responsible in a committee. And this ITS tender issue is being looked after by a committee. In a committee, everyone gets away by blaming each other.” He added that the participating companies were of the view that the police had put in such stringent measures only to favour some companies it wanted to give the contract to. Of course, this claim could not be confirmed.

Condition of unlimited liability:

The tender, claims the director of an MNC, never clarified what ‘unlimited liability’ meant. “There has to be a cap on the liabilities to 100% of cost value. There has to be a balance in risk and opportunity to make a project viable. Otherwise, the industry cannot survive. If something got destroyed or affected while the work was in progress, the companies had to replace it. Also, if the systems failed, the companies would be responsible. So, who will certify if the system is working or not? The clause began with, ‘If it fails…..’ and we all found it to be very ambiguous.” When questioned about the companies’ reservations and the liability of 400 crore, Garg observed, “It is incorrect that earlier tender was quashed by my predecessor. In the first tender, there was no bidder, hence it needed to be quashed. I was member of the purchase committee for that tender. About stiffness in conditions, I am sure the best interests of the department were kept in mind in making the specifications.”

Condition of all-at-one-time:

The companies found it entirely impractical that the Delhi Police wanted all the ITS solutions to be implemented at one go. All over the world, ITS gets implemented in phases but the tender stated it had to be done at one time, they state.

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“There was no industry involvement by the traffic police at all. There were no discussions, no brainstorming, nothing. There should have been more interaction with the industry to arrive at the right solutions. We tried but when it didn’t seem to happen, we lost interest.”

— Many ‘pre-bid’ companies

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Low budget:

The budget of the tender too, 200 crores earmarked for the entire project, was very low, opined the companies. It is said to be less than even 50% of the requirement. A demand was made to revise the budget as the actual requirement could be 2.5 to three times the quoted budget. It has been learnt that the project will now go to Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) for approval of the revised budget. Garg said, “The bids are for much more. 200 crore was the estimated cost but the bids are much higher. And the competent authority will take a decision regarding the bid amount and whether the budget needs to be increased.”

Ambiguity on completion certificate:

Nearly all the companies asked: “Who would certify that the work was complete and full and final payment could be made?” Says a company’s top executive, “This was a major issue – just like the issue of seeking permissions. The tender never clarified this issue, nor was the police ready to commit on it. If nobody was assigned the responsibility to ascertain that the work was complete and the full and final payment could be released, how would we get our money after the work was done?”

Condition of Advance Payment:

The MD of a big company that was in the fray said, “The payment terms required in the tender were not acceptable to my company. The advance payment was going to be very low – somewhere around 10%. And then, the payment promised in phases too was not sufficient enough to complete the work. The time frame too was initially an issue which they later agreed to, and increased to 24 months when the companies demanded so.”

No industry involvement:

“There was no industry involvement by the traffic police at all. There were no discussions, no brainstorming, nothing. There should have been more interaction with the industry to arrive at the right solutions. We tried but when it didn’t seem to happen, we lost interest,” is the contention of many Indian companies and MNCs.

The industry asks unanimously, “If so many companies are saying you are wrong, you (traffic police) cannot write them off. Something has to be wrong with your own process.” A senior executive of an MNC observes. “They must have called for more meetings and made the situation transparent and clear and made an attempt to understand the companies’ points of view too.”

Said Garg, “The technical specifications for the tender were made by a technical committee headed by Special CP, Traffic. Many senior level functionaries were working in that committee. We have got a consultant also – RITES which are technical consultants and advisors. Being non-technical, I will not be able to exactly comment on how strict the conditions were.”

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