Posts Tagged ‘Machine Readable

30
Dec
09

Machine-Readable Passport (MRP): Favouring the fallible again..!

The tender evaluation committee has once again recommended that the contract for the machine-readable passport (MRP) projects go to a Malaysia-based company, despite cancelling its offer earlier.

No plausible explanation has been offered for awarding the same contract to an associate of the same concern that had failed in the past to deliver an IT-related project of the central bank.

Asked why the IRIS Corporation Barhad was again given the job despite cancelling it initially, Brigadier General Refayetullah, director of MRP and machine-readable visa (MRV) project, told bdnews24.com that after the evaluation committee made the recommendation after it was was convinced that IRIS Corporation had not been blacklisted in Turkey.

The tender evaluation committee forwarded its latest report on the project on Dec 20 to the home ministry.

The evaluation committee in its first report forwarded on Nov 23 recommended that IRIS and Flora Telecomm with Gemalto (Luxembourg) be awarded the MRP and MRV project contract.

Page of a passport with Machine Readable Zone in the red oval

After a probe into the related documents, bdnews24.com published a report on Dec 4 on the failure of those companies in delivering similar job in the past.

The firms certified by the project evaluation committee as fit to provide required technical and technological support. But bdnews24.com found that IRIS was blacklisted in Turkey and Flora Telecom’s associate ‘Patimass’ was blacklisted with Bangladesh Bank. The Turkish government barred IRIS from bidding for any government work until October 2011 as it failed to complete the nation’s MRP project in time.

It does not have the experience of supplying 2.5 crore passport books and manufacturing 80,00,000 passports a year as mentioned in the bidding requirements. On the other hand, ‘Patimas’ was blacklisted by the Bangladesh Bank for its failure to develop a software to facilitate inter-bank transactions. The evaluation committee in its second report on Dec 8 recommended that Flora Telecom should be exclusively awarded the project contract, excluding IRIS.

General Refayetullah said, “IRIS submitted documents to the committee claiming that they had not been blacklisted in Turkey. On scrutiny of the submitted documents, we were convinced about the authenticity of their claim and included the firm in the third and most recent recommendation forwarded on Dec 20.”

Bangladeshi Passport

bdnews24.com probe found that “IRIS Technology Ltd” blacklisted in Turkey and IRIS Corporation Barhad were in fact the same company with same address. When the competence of the two firms were questioned considering the importance of the emergency, massive project–International Civil Aviation Authority has asks all the countries to introduce MRPs and MRVs by April 2010– the project director did not sound all too convincing.

“The firms lacked in fulfilling certain technical criteria, which are ‘rectifiable’,” he said.

“Our job is done, now it up to the ministry. We should cooperate with whatever firm the government awards the contract to.”

He said in case IRIS and Flora were unwilling to accept the work order, offers of France’s Oberthur Technology and China’s Beijing Jinchen Ciccone Security Printing Co, Ltd could be re-evaluated for getting the job done by the deadline, after which travelling abroad will be barred without the e-passport and visa.

Asked if he was apprehensive about accomplishing the work in time, the General Refayetullah said, “The delay caused by not issuing the work order to the tender winning bidder in early December can be overcome. If necessary, we’ll work overtime.”

Handwritten, untidy and sometimes barely readable passports often cause Bangladeshi travellers to be singled out for interrogation at airports abroad

He claimed that the project activities were progressing following regulations and the work would be completed in time. Md Abdul Mabud, director general, of the Department of Immigration and Passport (DIP) told bdnews24.com on Sunday, “Despite a little delay, we’re expecting that the government would decide the matter as soon as possible to allow the MRP and MRV project to be accomplished within the timeframe.”

An ECNEC meeting on Mar 19 decided to issue 174,00,000 general and 10,00,000 urgent passports under the five-year project at a cost of Tk 283 crore. The project, launched in July, is expected to be complete by June 2014.

The government assigned the army to supervise the project and invited international tender on Sep 16 which closed on Oct 27. Eight companies participated in the bidding. The tender was called for supplying 22,00,000 passports every year. Iris, ‘Beijing Jinchen Ciccone Security Printing Co, Ltd.’ (China), Flora Telecom and Gammeltoe (Luxembourg), ‘Oberthur’ (France), and ‘ST Electronics’ (Singapore) were the leading contenders for this project.

The successful bidders will get the task to operate and maintain the project for two years and DIP will take over the project in phases. DIP officials said no old (manual) passport will be issued after the project starts functioning. But those with old passports with valid expiry dates will not face any problem. There are some 1.2 crore manual passport holders in the country.

Source: bdnews24.com




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