Sonda defends Metrobús financial administrator contract

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Chilean IT systems integrator Sonda has come out on the defensive over questions about it being awarded the contract as financial administrator for Panama's new public transportation system, Metrobús, according to Panamanian press.

At a press conference, Sonda's integration services manager, José Orlandini, insisted that his company complied with the technical and financial terms of the contract. He added that the evaluation committee, which analyzed proposals for the contract, explained its choice was made based on long-term relations and advanced technological tools.

Orlandini maintained that Sonda did not submit a conditional proposal that the committee allowed the company to modify. He also said the economic side of the offer was validated, accepted and evaluated in the same way as those of other companies who participated in the selection process.

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In terms of qualifications for the position, Orlandini highlighted Sonda's experience in technological and administration services. The general manager of Sonda in Costa Rica, Eduardo Sandoval, said the company has extensive knowledge in the Latin American market in terms of cost structures and financial strength.

According to Orlandini, the technology for payments will be the same as is used in Transantiago - an integrated mass transport system in Chilean capital Santiago - in which Sonda forms part of the financial administrator. However, the projects will differ in that in Santiago, Sonda operated under a bank contract with no direct relation to the state. In Panama, Sonda has a direct agreement with the government.

Local media outlet Crítica reported that Orlandini also denied alleged failures in the administration of the BIP payment cards for Transantiago. Orlandini said complaints about Santiago's transport system were aimed at the bus service itself, not the card technology or charging system.

In December, the evaluation committee recommended to Panama's government that Sonda be appointed financial administrator for the project. Other companies considered for the contract included Panama Card, Metrorecaudo and Confya.

Three complaints have been filed against the recommendation and will be evaluated by Panama's general director of public contracts. One of the principal complaints alleges that Sonda was allowed to modify its proposal.