Infrastructure Malta has rejected demands from two eliminated bidders that the Malta-Gozo tunnel tender be cancelled and restarted from scratch.

Bidders Malta Gozo Fixed Link and the CGYI Malta Gozo consortium have both filed appeals arguing Infrastructure Malta was wrong to disqualify them at the pre-qualification stage of the tender.

The appeals will be adjudicate by the public contracts review board.

Earlier this month, Infrastructure Malta announced that only one of the four bidders had been chosen to progress to the next stage in the adjudication process of the tenders to design and build the tunnel.

Infrastructure Malta said CGYI was disqualified for failing to meet minimum requirements in relation to key health and safety criteria.

According to documents submitted by the consortium, one of its members said it had faced six prosecutions or significant accidents in relation to two infrastructure projects it had previously undertaken.

The consortium contended that the number was an obvious typo which Infrastructure Malta should have queried.

This typo led to the consortium’s elimination, as the tender document specified that any participants with five or more prosecutions or significant accidents in tunnelling projects would not be eligible.

Infrastructure Malta’s lawyers, Camilleri Preziosi described as deplorable the implication that the agency acted in bad faith for ‘missing’ what the bidder says was an obvious error.

Camilleri Preziosi said Infrastructure Malta was obliged to eliminate bidders that did not satisfy tender requirements. Also, Infrastructure Malta had no reason to investigate whether the bidder had indeed faced six prosecutions in two of its three previous projects.

With regard to the appeal filed by Malta Gozo Fixed Link, which is backed by the late Hugo Chetcuti’s empire, Infrastructure Malta noted that the bidder is a newly incorporated company with no experience in tunnelling and was, therefore, reliant on third parties to see the project through.

Infrastructure Malta said the bidder failed to submit adequate documentation showing it had concrete agreements in place with other construction companies to carry out the project.

It said all the agreements submitted as part of the bid were “seriously deficient”.

One of the subcontractors identified by the bidder, BAM International, had even started the process to be wound down last year.

The only bidder to make it past the first hurdle is a consortium made up of five companies.

They are the UK’s Equitix, Japanese company Itochu, Turkish companies Yapi Merkezi and Makyol, and French company Egis.

The Nationalist Party is calling for a referendum for Gozitans to be held prior to the project going ahead.

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