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Central internet for schools to be delayed again, tender scrapped

The procurement authority is to halt the Edunet project, since one of the failed bidders has appealed. The reasons for the verdict have not been stated.

Illustrative stock photo(Source: TASR)

The Public Procurement Office (ÚVO), led by Miroslav Hlivák since autumn, is likely to halt the much-awaited Edunet project after all. The Office ordered the cancellation of the already-finished tender at the end of February.

The Swan company, which is a part of the DanubiaTel Group, was supposed to win an order worth €64.4 million. However, one of the unsuccessful candidates appealed, the Sme daily wrote on March 21. Its name has not been revealed yet.

Other failed bidders

The second lowest bid was submitted by Slovanet and the third by Slovak Telekom, which had been providing the internet to schools, as part of the Infovek project, for several years. Slovak Telekom receives around €400,000 a month for this project.

O2 submitted the lowest bid, amounting to around €56 million. The ministry excluded O2 from the tender, but the company did not appeal. The reasons for the ÚVO’s latest decision remain unknown.

We have been pointing out, together with Aliancia Fair-play, that this project has not been set up properly,” head of the Slovensko.Digital civic association, Ján Hargaš, told the daily. “It needs to be stopped and re-made.”

Read also:Education Ministry ready to sign for controversial project

The tender was announced by the Education Ministry by the end of 2015, when Juraj Draxler (Smer) was the minister. Back in summer, then-education minister Peter Plavčan (SNS) announced that the ÚVO had nothing against the tender results, and he could sign the contract with the winner – with a single problem found that had no impact on the result – on the condition that the bidders have to agree with the maximum prices of services stipulated by the ministry. However, they did not ultimately apply this condition when evaluating the bids.

Reasons for verdict unknown

It is not known why the procurement office decided to halt the tender, and the ministry, led by incumbent Education Minister Martina Lubyová (also SNS nominee), has not commented, either.

ÚVO has not finished the procedure with an effective ruling yet, its spokesperson Janka Zvončeková told Sme. Official stances are expected by mid-April.

Reactions

“We are sorry that teachers and children around Slovakia are the hostages of behavior by this company – left to work with obsolete and insufficient solutions,” said the spokesperson of Swan, Matúš Benčík.

Read also:IT community to evaluate state projects

Slovensko.Digital claims that many providers would be able to supply faster and cheaper internet connection to schools, adding that the tender was set up in a way that only four out of more than 300 suppliers on the market participated in it, Hargaš added.

Vladimír Crmoman of the Slovak Chamber of Teachers welcomed the ÚVO decision, commenting for Sme that the whole project was nonsense from the very start, and that to prevent corruption, it would be best if schools received the money directly and could select from among local providers.

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