Strengthen tender process for government contracts

I am concerned about the repeated delays that have plagued the Braddell Road flyover project over the last five years (Braddell Road flyover project deadline extended to June; March 17).

Questions have been raised on the efficacy of government procurement rules in relation to public tender projects.

It must not be forgotten that taxpayer funds are at stake when big infrastructure projects are delayed, not to mention the additional costs, inconvenience and safety issues that ensue.

The first main contractor Hexagroup had less-than-convincing operating results and lacked financial data for the years prior to the contract being awarded.

It is perplexing that the Land Transport Authority did not ask for its financial statements in the first place, to ensure that the company was financially placed to complete the contract.

Now, it transpires that the replacement contractor, Feng Ming Construction, had ties with Hexagroup. This raises concern over the former's credibility and eligibility for the contract.

I cannot stress enough the necessity for government agencies to ensure that tender procurement processes are closely monitored so that bids are carefully evaluated with regard to the bidder's credibility and ability to fulfil contracts.

More transparency and accountability are needed in the tender procedures so that public funds are better protected. Perhaps electronic systems could be considered.

Government agencies should think out of the box and develop a system that has zero tolerance for weaknesses in the use and management of public funds.

V. Subramaniam (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 21, 2017, with the headline 'Strengthen tender process for government contracts'. Print Edition | Subscribe