The tender for the fourth bridge over the Panama Canal, a megaproject on which a subway line will pass, was suspended after the contract was awarded to a Chinese consortium and another of the participating groups contested the result, local press reported today.
The Italian-American consortium Astaldi-Daelin, which was disqualified from the tender for presenting an economic offer well below the reference price, filed a complaint in recent days, which implies the suspension of the tender until the dispute is resolved.
The Ministry of Public Works said Friday in a statement that "the claims constitute a legitimate exercise of all the proponents" and that "the admission does not imply a substantive decision, which occurs after evaluating the truth of the claim."
The local media reported that the Italian-American consortium accused the ministry of alleged lack of transparency, something that it rejected outright in the official statement.
"The entire process was carried out under the supervision of the General Directorate of Public Procurement (DGCP), so all complaints against the procedure are considered unfounded; however, the claim must be filed and await the final ruling of the DGCP," added the ministry.
On June 29, the Panama Fourth Bridge consortium, made up of China Communications Construction Company and China Harbor Engineering Company, submitted a bid of 1.420 million dollars for the design and construction of the bridge and remained as the only group participating in the tender.
The Ministry of Public Works then explained the Spanish group Dragados Sucursal Panama, with an offer of 1.812 million dollars, withdrew from the tender, while the other two participants were disqualified.
In addition to Astaldi-Daelin, the Fourth Bridge Consortium CSCEC-CREC, formed by China State Costruction Engineering Corporation LTD and China Railway Group Limited, was also excluded, "it did not meet the mandatory minimum requirements established in the statement of objections," the institution explained.
The work, however, was not formally awarded that day because it is necessary to wait the completion of the claim period, a ministry source told Efe.
The infrastructure, which will have an approximate length of 6.5 kilometers, will be built north of the Bridge of the Americas, one of the most emblematic bridges of the country, located just at the entrance to the Pacific Ocean.
The project will consist of six lanes for vehicles and two exclusive lanes for the third metro line of the capital, which will connect the western satellite cities of Arraiján and Chorrera with the city center.
The bridge will relieve the capital's congested traffic and, according to government estimates, will benefit 1.7 million people.