Bratislava city councillors Lucia Štasselová and Ján Mrva filed a motion with the Public Procurement Office ÚVO) on January 18, the TASR newswire wrote. It slams the contract, concluded between the capital and the Siemens company that fulfills the supply of the complex service of administering public lighting, for being created without a due tender.
“We suspect a violation of law on public procurement, as this service was ordered through direct negotiation procedure – and not a public tender,” Mrva, mayor of the Bratislava borough Vajnory, told TASR.
The two city councillors ask ÚVO to check whether the capital lawfully concluded the contract directly with Siemens at the end of 2016, for a period of 12 months and with a possibility for a further 12 months, without any tender. This contract shall cost Bratislava up to €2 million a year. Councillors opine that the city did not proceed in compliance with the law.
"A direct negotiation procedure can be used in three cases: with time pressure, when the disrepair is so serious that can threaten life and health, or when these two cases are combined,” Mrva explained, adding that the city council notified Bratislava Mayor Ivo Nesrovnal early enough to organise a public procurement for the service.
There was no emergency situation
At the end of 2016, the 20-year contract for the administration of public lighting expired, which the capital had concluded with the same company, Siemens.
Last year, the city stated repeatedly that until the winner of the public tender is clear, a provisional period will apply for public lighting, and that there are legal mechanisms that enable this system to operate further, after January 1, 2017. Siemens shall secure this service until a new provider of public lighting has been found.
“This model has been chosen, which is totally in compliance with the law, and the pricing procedure is in compliance with the contract,” mayor Nesrovnal said this week, as quoted by TASR. “We proceeded according to the number of lighting sites.”
The total monthly amount for the whole order depends, according to city representation, on the number of active lighting points, while it is reduced against the past year in the price of electric power which Bratislava pays on its own. On average, the price of the lighting’s operation is about €132,000 without VAT per month.
Siemens informed TASR that it had concluded the contract with the city based on the negotiation procedure. In certain situations, this is a common way of using public procurement and the ÚVO did not have objections against it, either.
However, the Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) watchdog deems the proceeding of thee Bratislava City Council in this case extremely irresponsible. The NGO added that the city was not under any time pressure and had time enough to prepare an open tender. As things are, TIS opines, Bratislavans now face a higher chance of getting either more expensive, or poorer-quality lighting services – as the council has further “cemented” the single company into the public order.