PCRB endorses WasteServ’s gold standard procurement process for waste-to-energy plant

Last Updated on Friday, 23 February, 2024 at 3:26 pm by Andre Camilleri

WasteServ said Friday it welcomed the Public Contracts Review Board’s unequivocal endorsement of its procurement process for a new waste-to-energy plant, which it confirmed was characterised by “best practices, transparency and openness”.

In its ruling, the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB) rejected in full the appeal by Hitachi Zosen Inova AG-Terna SA against WasteServ’s decision to award the tender for the €600 million plant to the Paprec Consortium, a conglomerate with over 32 waste-to-energy plants across the globe, Wasteserv said. The PCRB also ruled that the appellant’s deposit should not be reimbursed.

Commenting to the media, WasteServ CEO Richard Bilocca said: “This unequivocal verdict shows that WasteServ delivered a gold standard procurement process”. “This waste-to-energy facility is essential for Malta to move away from the primitive way of managing waste through landfills, which are costly to operate and harmful to the environment. We will continue to defend our work and the company’s reputation as we forge ahead to secure Malta’s transition to a fully circular economy”.

“WasteServ’s main and only focus was to get the project off the ground and deliver a critical piece of infrastructure for Malta’s overall environmental well-being.” The appeal process has already set back the project by 122 days.

This delay means that 95,500 tonnes of waste have ended up in Malta’s limited capacity landfills instead of being converted into green energy. Every additional day of delay increases the risk of losing 150,000 square metres of agricultural land — equivalent to 30 football fields — to a new landfill and worsens Malta’s position in meeting its binding EU obligations.

The PCRB ruling stated:  “The Contracting Authority (WasteServ) has been very meticulous in the way it proceeded in the evaluation. The number of experts which have been appointed to assist it can be described as being a novelty in the local procurement arena. This indicates the serious manner in which the Contracting Authority proceeded in dealing with the procurement process.” The PCRB further said that elements of Hitachi Zosen Inova AG-Terna SA’s appeal were “a misrepresentation and reformulation of the textual content of the rejection letter aimed to fit a specific purpose” and it was “as if the appellant somehow is trying to use all the arrows available to it in its quiver in the hope that some of the appellant’s arguments stick”.

In further analysing the appeal, the Review Board also outlined that it is “certainly not competent and is indeed legally precluded from allowing fishing expeditions of any sort without having true cause” in line with the terms of the law. The PCRB board was also satisfied that WasteServ “afforded the same and equal level of treatment to all economic operators participating in this tender process, to the fullest adherence to the content of the tender document”.

During the appeal, the Hitachi-Zosen Inova AG – Terna S.A. consortium failed to back any of its claims, which were based on questionable allegations, including the misrepresentation of WasteServ’s justifications; spurious allegations of bias and conflicts of interest; as well as the request to cancel such an essential procurement procedure.

When questioned under oath, the senior representatives of the Hitachi-Zosen Inova AG – Terna S.A. consortium even failed to agree on key elements of their challenge and on the score that according to them their bid — which was €182 million more expensive than the preferred bidder — had to garner.

During the procurement process, WasteServ followed best practices and sought the expertise of COWI, a leading global engineering firm with over 90 years of experience in consultancy; a company that ranks first internationally in solid waste management consultancy services. WasteServ went a step further and engaged UK-based consultancy firm Frith Resource Management to independently audit the entire procurement procedure from the very first stage, up until the evaluation of the submitted bids. Frith’s report confirmed that the recommended award, and the procurement process were conducted in a fair, equitable and just manner.

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