Firetrucks deemed defective now in ‘good running condition’–supplier
The supplier of 469 China-made firetrucks purchased by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) in 2015 on Monday said the defects in 176 units cited by the Commission on Audit (COA) in its report were “not serious” and all the trucks were now in good working condition.
Kolonwel Trading, the winning bidder in the P2.577-billion deal in a joint venture with Hubei Jiangnan Special Automobile Co. Ltd., reacted to an Inquirer story citing the COA’s annual audit report for BFP, which found several lapses in the procurement contract.
“The records will show that most of the ‘defects’ observed by COA are not serious as the Fire Marshals of the different fire stations certified that the firetrucks are all serviceable and in good running condition, except of only six units,” Kolonwel said in an email to the Inquirer.
“Upon notice, Kolonwel’s technicians immediately repaired the six units and they are now in good running condition,” it added.
“The 107 units that were reported by the BFP Director for Operations to be ‘still to be repaired by the supplier’ are all serviceable and in running condition, but due to their use by untrained BFP drivers/crew and also because of the lack of fire stations, some parts of the vehicles were damaged,” it said.
Kolonwel took exception to the phrasing of the Inquirer report, noting that COA did not mention there was “irregularity” in the procurement.
“It merely stated there were ‘lapses in the procurement process’,” it argued.
Kolonwel said only audit team leaders of BFP’s offices in Regions 1, 6 and 11 made the “conjecture” that the defects found in the firetrucks would affect the capability of the end user to effectively carry out the bureau’s mission to prevent and suppress destructive fires.
“However, in the same COA report, the COA auditor noted that the percentage of fire and emergency medical services and rescue calls responded nationwide by the BFP is 100 percent,” it said.
“This factual finding of the COA auditor is more conclusive than the observation (conjecture) of the Audit Team Leaders,” Kolonwel said.
In its annual audit report for BFP in 2016, COA cited faulty parts in 176 firetrucks that were distributed to Regions 1 to 13, as of December 2016, including defective engine relay, starter and ignition switch, leaking water pump gasket, malfunctioning transmission and hand brake, among others.
Some of the firetrucks had wheels that were not aligned, damaged side mirrors, oil leakage, easily-drained battery, and low level coolant, the report showed.
COA also noted various procedural lapses, including questions over whether the winning bidder was actually 60-percent Filipino-owned, the lack of meticulous and judicious planning, and the post-qualification process exceeding 30 days, contrary to procurement rules.
COA also recommended that the BFP demand P52 million in damages from the contractor arising from delays in the delivery of the firetrucks, or “otherwise, hold responsible all persons who allowed the release of the full payment of the 469 fire trucks to the [joint venture].”
COA also observed that the market price of the firetrucks did not appear to have been considered in determining the approved budget for the contract. Price had been set at P6 million for each of the 244 units of 1,000-gallon trucks and P5 million for each of the 225 units of the 500-gallon trucks.
It said the approved budget had been “too low to procure a fast and reliable and efficient fire trucks, compared with the market price of fire trucks of known quality and of international standard.”
“For such [approved budget for the contract] set, we cannot help but to compare those with the 76 fire trucks bought from Austria under the loan facility costing P19,617,497.42 per unit, which to date no defects have been reported,” COA said./rga