On April 28, 2015, the Electoral Commission placed a notice in a local newspaper calling for bids for the provision of voter education and publicity for the display of the national voters register. In the bid notice they stated that the terms and conditions of the bidding process were contained in the standard bidding document to be picked from the EC offices after payment of a non-refundable fee of Shs 100,000.
Terp Group Ltd, is owned by President Museveni’s son-in-law Odrek Rwabwogo. The company that among other things specialises in design, implementation and sustainability of communication strategies, responded to the notice. They paid the Shs100,000 and picked the document from the EC, and began to prepare their bid.
They then submitted their bid which was to a tune of Shs2,653,139,952 exclusive of local taxes which were calculate at Shs477,565,191. They also submitted along with the bid, a bid security of Shs40,000,000 from Bank of Africa, they also submitted a comfort letter from ECO bank confirming that the bank was ready to provide the required financing to Terp to perform the contract in accordance with the contract requirements.
In 2016, Terp group sued the EC for Shs825 million, claiming breach of procurement process, contract and other guidelines and breach of a statutory duty owed to Terp Group by the EC.
Terp group’s argument is that they were unfairly and illegally eliminated from the procurement process by the EC. As a result, they claim special damages of UGX 30,000,000, compensatory damages for financial loss of profits and investment returns of Shs795,941,985.6, punitive damages for the defendants conduct, general damages as a consequence of the defendants breaches and costs of the suit.
“In breach of section 52 of the Public Procurement And Disposal Of Public Assets (PPDA) Act, 2003 order 2014 the defendant on 08th June 2015 wrongly declared Impact Associates Limited as the best evaluated bidder without following the methodology and criteria detailed in the standard bidding documents and the law.” states Kiwanuka and Mpiima Advocates, who are representing Terp Group Ltd in the plaint.
On June 15, 2015, Terp Group challenged this decision by an application for administrative review. However, this application was ignored by the EC, triggering intervention by the PPDA which on June 17, 2015, requested the EC to carry out an administrative review of the procurement process.
The electoral body still ignored this instruction, prompting Terp group to write back to the PPDA on the of June 26, 2015, challenging this decision.
The PPDA on July 7 ordered the EC to suspend further action on the procurement process and instituted an investigation into the matter. This investigation found impropriety on the part of the EC. All these processes were ignored by the commission according to documents submitted in court by Terp group lawyers.
The EC, however denied all these claims, stating in their defence that: “The bid notice was merely an invitation and the EC didn’t give any assurance to the plaintiff that they would be awarded the contract.”
They also argue that they complied with the PPDA Act and didn’t secretly grant the tender to Impact Associates.
In their defence, they further argue that the bid prepared by Terp Group didn’t comply with the instructions as required under the standard bidding document.
They further state that they suspended the procurement process as per the directive from the PPDA, but they were unable to carry out the retender process due to the statutory deadline for display of the national voters register and that the report from the PPDA came after the start of the activity of displaying of the national voters register hence it had been overtaken by events.
High Court Commercial Division presided over by Principle Judge Justice David Wangutusi, has today ordered the parties to return on April 3, 2018.