Punjab University withholds canteen contracts

LAHORE :October 9:Abnormally high bids for some canteens of Punjab University (PU) has put the university administration in a fix which has now decided to withhold the process to award contracts, it is learnt. Through newspaper advertisements, the PU Resident Officer-1 had invited sealed bids for 25 different spots at the varsity including canteens, tuck shops, motor mechanic workshop, fast-food and juice and photocopy shops, etc. with October 6 as the closing date. Sources said the committee overseeing the bidding process went for open bidding as the bids received were low. However, the open bidding turned out to be a totally different experience. The sources further said the open bids led to further confusion as this time abnormally high bids were received which surprised everyone. They added one of the canteens at the university’s Institute of Communication Studies (ICS) was rented out for around Rs 20,000 per month last time but the latest bid for the same canteen turned out to be whopping Rs 200,000 per month in open bidding. Similarly, substantially high bids were received against canteens at Institute of Administrative Sciences and Sociology Department. On condition of anonymity, an official, who is privy to the developments, said the abnormally high bids had raised eyebrows keeping in view feedback of the former contractors as well as the number of students availing services at these canteens. He said even the main canteen of Government College University (GCU) which catered to thousands of students did not cost so much in terms of rent under the contract. He further said it also needed to be investigated whether going for open bidding was violation of Punjab Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules or not. When contacted, RO-1 Iftikhar Ahmad Ch said he personally felt that the bids were way too high. He said it was as if the bidders had locked horns and wanted to take lead. “I’m surprised because this will not be manageable for the bidder/s.” To a question, the RO-1 said he had security concern at the back of his mind and added the same could not be ruled out before awarding contracts. PU spokesman Khuram Shahzad, when contacted, said Vice Chancellor Dr Zafar Moeen Nasir had immediately taken notice of abnormal and surprising increase in the bidding of the canteens. He added the university would get security clearance of the highest bidders. He said the VC had instructed officials concerned not to award contract of canteens and the matter would now be decided after the report of security agencies. He said PU administration would not take any risk in the prevailing security situation of the country.The news.

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