THE Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) may cancel the contract awarded to M/S Trimax I T Infrastructure and Services Limited for issuing Electronic Ticket Issuing Machines (ETIMs) to the undertaking, as an inquiry has pointed out “deficiencies in the tender”. The inquiry has also revealed that the tender conditions and specifications for the system were “tailor made” for the company.
On September 29, 2010, Trimax was awarded the five-year ticketing contract to be carried out in three phases – with phase I requiring the company to design, install and implement ETIMs to issue paper tickets and renew passes; phase II involving integrating the ticketing system with the provision of common mobility pass; and phase III that required them to provide passenger information system. The operator was required to transfer all project assets including the networking equipment and computer hardware to the undertaking on the completion of five years. Four months before the completion of the contract, the committee has decided to go for a new tender rather than taking over the old system, as most of the machines could not be used any further.
On November 4, 2016, the BEST committee had approved Trimax for the contract worth Rs 108 crore on the approval of the administration that the firm was “technically qualified” for the tender. An inquiry was initiated in this regard to understand details pertaining to the tender by the BEST general manager in December, 2017.
According to the inquiry report, “The tender specifications have not followed Government of India specifications for National Common Mobility Card (NCMC) for ETIMs specifications.” The report further suggested that the pre-qualification (PQ) criteria for contractors restricted other competitors from filing the tender for the contract.
The report has criticised the undertaking of restricting competition to “technically qualify” Trimax to avail the contract. “This has led to a situation in which the organisation that was once seen as the most progressive has landed itself into a technologically backward situation, by not implementing the Government of India NCMC guidelines. Extension of the tender twice without fundamentally changing the PQ criteria that had limited the competition only shows how the traffic department and other officers ignored the interests of the organisation,” read excerpts from the report.
“Based on the preliminary report submitted by investigating officers, we are in the process of cancelling the contract awarded to M/S Trimax I T Infrastructure and Services Limited vide contract work order dated 29.11.2016. The process for a fresh tender, based on NCMC specifications issued by the Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, will be initiated,” read a statement by Surendrakumar Bagde, General Manager, BEST, in his report submitted to Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Commissioner Ajoy Mehta in December, 2017.
The BEST is yet to decide whether it must take over the old equipment of ETIMs and other software. According to the report, the undertaking might have to go paper ticket way if handing over turned out to be a difficult and costly affair. The BEST has floated a tender of Rs 2 crore to get 36,000 packets of paper tickets, which can be used by conductors to manually print paper tickets.
Criticising the BEST for the move, Leader of the Opposition in the House and BEST committee member Ravi Raja said, “As the proposal has been brought by the administration, they must have a complete knowledge of it. Approval is given by the committee by trusting the administration of its duties. The committee cannot be blamed for approving something that is approved by the administration. What is the need of the committee if the administration has to decide everything?”