COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka will invite fresh bids to upgrade the runway at its main airport after cancelling a deal given by the former regime to a local firm that was 25 percent higher than government estimates.
Ports and Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has recommended that bids be obtained from "reputed international construction contractors" and request for proposals to be sent to three firms directly.
They are Al Naboodah Construction Group LLC Dubai, UAE, Colas Ltd. of Birmingham, UK and China Harbour Engineering Company, according to a proposal accepted this week by the Cabinet of Ministers.
Funding for the project to repair the runway at the island’s international airport at Katunayake will have to be obtained by the contractor as a soft loan, according to the aviation ministry proposal.
The government has cancelled an 85.8 million US dollar contract awarded by the former Rajapaksa regime to local construction firm Access Engineering.
This was because no competitive tender procedure had been followed in the award of the contract and Access Engineering lacked experience for the runway work, Ports and Aviation Minister Ranatunga told the Cabinet of ministers.
No major repair work has been done on the runway after it was opened to air traffic in 1986.
The International Civil Aviation Organization has recommended in their audit observation of Sri Lankan airports that an overlaying of the runway to improve surface condition has to be done.
This was to ensure "the safe operation of aircraft as some cracks have appeared on the runway surface," according to the proposal.
Access Engineering’s original proposal in August 2014 was 103.6 million US dollars but this was negotiated down to 85.8 million dollars, which still "was 25 percent over the engineer’s estimate," it said.
That original bid was subject to renegotiation with Access Engineering to reduce the final bid price.
But the then-Cabinet of ministers was told the negotiations were not successful and contract awarded o Access at 85.8 million dollars,
Ranatunga has said Access Engineering’s "quoted price is also comparatively high" as revealed by inquiries from Al Naboodah Construction Group LLC of Dubai, UAE and Colas Ltd. Birmingham, UK which done similar overlay work on runways in Dubai International Airport and London Gatwick International Airport.