Bidding has closed for the 300 megawatts (MW) Morupule B Phase II Project and in all, three foreign companies are in the running. According to Ditapole Chibua-Tsheboeng, the Public Relations and Education Manager of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board, the bidders are Marubeni Corporation, Cennergy and the Korea Electric Power Corporation consortium.
A fourth company (which she would not name but which Sunday Standard learns is from the Middle East) failed to meet the deadline because its representatives arrived late. Confirming the late-arrival, Chibua-Tsheboeng says that the fourth bidder that his late bid be opened with other bids but the Board declined as opening the bid would have been in contravention of its own regulations. “We have not heard from the bidder since then,” she says. If the theory being peddled by industry sources is accurate, chances are PPADB may hear from that bidder.
The Middle East company is said to be a formidable competitor because it routinely quotes unbelievably low prices and gets contracts on that basis. Its CEO is said to have skipped an important international energy conference that took place in Cape Town two weeks ago to come to Botswana a and plead with the powers-that-be for leniency. There is fear that if his pleas fell on receptive ears, then the bids might be cancelled in order to allow the company to participate in the new call to tender. Morupule B currently has four boilers which should generate 600MW when operating at full capacity.
The Phase II Project will entail the addition of two more boilers which will generate 150 each, bringing the total output of the plant to 900MW. Built at billions of pula, Morupule B was supposed to solve Botswana’s energy problems but has itself become a problem. It has never been able to consistently generate enough power for the country because it has never operated at full capacity for an appreciable period of time. More than being an engineering problem, the power station has also been the source of a diplomatic tiff between Botswana and China, where the contractor comes from.