By Lee Wei Lian
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 2 ― George Kent has for the first time come out to deny accusations that it won the bid for the billion-ringgit Ampang LRT Extension Project (LEP) despite being less qualified.
This comes after PKR strategy chief Rafizi Ramli repeatedly accused Datuk Seri Najib Razak of allegedly interfering in the tender bid and granting the massive contract to George Kent, which he claimed was controlled by a “close associate” of the prime minister and which also scored one of the lowest points in the technical and commercial evaluation for the project
In the company’s first statement to the media since winning the Ampang LEP project on Tuesday, Cheong Thiam Fook, executive director of George Kent and who is also project director of the George Kent-Lion Pacific joint venture (GKLP-JV) said that the partnership was well positioned to deliver the project.
“We strongly refute the baseless allegations that GKLP-JV failed the full technical and commercial evaluations,” said Cheong, who is also a qualified engineer and was involved in the construction of the Ampang LRT line Phase 1 and 2 from 1994 to 1998.
He added that there was “also absolutely no question that George Kent has a healthy balance sheet and is in a strong cash position”.
As of January this year, George Kent had cash and cash equivalents of RM54.9 million while its debts amounted to RM34.46 million.
For the 2012 financial year ended January 31, the group reported a profit of RM19.3 million on the back of RM152.2 million in revenue.
Cheong said that George Kent has managed to diversify into managing construction projects involving complex mechanical and engineering requirements in Malaysia and abroad, and has successfully delivered large projects on time and on budget ― including the construction and design of the new Kuala Lipis Hospital valued at RM100 million, which was recently completed on time and on budget and with zero variation orders.
He added that it will also soon also complete construction of the “technically complex” inter-state raw water transfer project, Semantan Intake and Pumping Station Works worth some RM318 million.
“I believe that the combination of the various strengths of our proposal, such as our full bid compliance, our meeting all technical and other requirements won us the contract in what was a hotly-contested international tender,” said Cheong.
He noted that George Kent will be leading the project together with Tewet Gmbh, “a highly respected and internationally-recognised project management consultant with experience in over 400 similar projects completed around the globe.”
Rafizi had earlier told a press conference that an evaluation by international consulting firm Halcrow showed that George Kent was financially and technically incapable of leading the project, with most of its projects related to water and its biggest project purportedly worth only RM40 million, which was far lower than other bidders.
The PKR leader accused Najib of overturning an initial decision by Prasarana to award the project to Balfour-Beatty Invensys, a charge which the prime minister has denied.
George Kent said that the Ampang LEP contract is worth RM 956 million and involves the engineering, procurement, construction, testing and commissioning of the signaling system, communication, track work and third rail, electrification of the rail system and other associated works for the 17.7km extension connecting the current Sri Petaling station to Putra Heights.
“We are proud that a Malaysian entity has been selected to spearhead this project after a lengthy and stringent evaluation by various specialist committees before being finally approved by the Ministry Of Finance Tender Committee and Prasarana,” said Cheong.