A Chinese contractor chosen for the US$200 million Malé-Hulhulé bridge project was blacklisted by the World Bank over fraudulent practices during a road improvement project in the Philippines.
The CCCC Second Harbour Engineering company was sanctioned in 2009 and barred from engaging in any road and bridge projects financed by the World Bank Group until January 2017.
Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz said at a parliamentary committee today that the bidding process for the ‘China-Maldives Friendship Bridge’ was conducted by the Chinese government last week.
CCCC Second Harbour Engineering was chosen from among three companies shortlisted by the Chinese ministry of commerce. A team of 11 experts evaluated the bid proposals.
A spokesperson at the housing ministry told The Maldives Independent that the Maldivian government did not have any role in the bidding process as the bridge project is to be financed through grant aid and concessional loans from China.
“The government of the Maldives is satisfied with the process carried out by Chinese government,” he said,
The process was “transparent and fair,” he added.
The World Bank’s sanction does not apply to projects funded by international parties, the spokesperson noted, adding that CCCC had proposed a price that was US$60 million less than the government’s previous estimate.
A delegation from CCCC is expected to visit the Maldives soon to sign the construction contract.
According to a World Bank statement in July 2011, CCCC and all of its subsidiary companies will remain suspended for an eight year period.
“CCCC is the designated successor entity to China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) which, along with six other firms and one individual, was debarred by the World Bank for eight years, beginning January 12, 2009, following an investigation of the National Roads Improvement and Management Project by the World Bank’s Integrity Vice Presidency (INT)” the statement read.
CCCC was debarred following investigations by the World Bank into allegations of corruption and bribery to win projects in Philippines.
MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, spokesperson of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), expressed concern with the chosen contractor’s chequered past, suggesting that awarding the bridge project to the company “would again pave the way for more corruption, undermining public confidence for the government.”
The company had also met with opposition in Sri Lanka last year after it was awarded the Colombo port reclamation project.
The Sri Lankan media at the time heavily criticised the decision to award the contract to CCCC, citing sanctions by both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.
In March 2009, the Ugandan opposition also raised concern over the awarding of a contract to CCCC to construct a 51-kilometre highway.
“It is wrong for Uganda, being a member of the World Bank Group and a signatory to the United Nations Charter to accept to contract a company which has been blacklisted,” MP Geoffrey Ekanya told Ugandan newspaper Daily Monitor.