With the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) incurring losses worth Rs 222 crore due to faulty automatic ticketing machines, the BMC has asked the undertaking to recover the amount from Trimax IT Infrastructure and Services Limited — the company that was given the contract to supply the machines.
The BMC’s municipal chief auditor, after reviewing BEST’s contract with the company, has said in a report that as per the contract, the company has to pay Rs 500 per day for each faulty machine. The report added that the machines did not work on at least 662 days since the contract was awarded.
“I have asked the BEST to recover the money lost from the concerned company as per the audit report,” said Municipal Commissioner Ajoy Mehta on Tuesday. He has also directed the BEST to immediately seize the deposit of around Rs 6 crore that the company paid while bidding for the contract.
On September 29, 2010, Trimax was awarded a five-year ticketing contract to be carried out in three phases — phase I requiring the company to design, install and implement electronic ticket issuing machines (ETIM) to issue paper tickets and renew passes; phase II involving integrating the ticketing system with the provision of common mobility pass and phase III requiring it to provide passenger information system.
Trimax 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, BEST 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 had renewed Trimax for a contract worth Rs 108 crore to purchase ETIMs on the approval of the administration that the firm was “technically qualified” for the tender. But later, BEST General Manager Surendra Bagde decided to go back to issuing paper tickets, saying the contract was riddled with “irregularities”.
Bagde, who was appointed the BEST general manager in May 2017, submitted an exhaustive report to the BMC commissioner, listing the reasons for scrapping the Rs 108-crore contract with Trimax. In his report, Bagde stated that the contract was “tailormade to favour certain suppliers”, and that the tender did not follow government rules for the national common mobility card (NCMC) for ETIM specifications.
“The pre-qualification (PQ) criteria for contractors restricted other firms from bidding, and that the BEST had restricted competition to ensure Trimax bagged the contract… But months later, the BEST decided to give Trimax a six-month extension for its old 2010 contract,” he added.
Following this, an inquiry was initiated in December 2017 to understand details pertaining to the tender. The inquiry report, while stating that tender specifications have not followed government rules, suggested that the PQ criteria for contractors restricted other competitors from filing the tender for the contract. It also criticised BEST for restricting competition to “technically qualify” Trimax to avail the contract. When contacted, Bagde said the matter being is looked into.