By IAN M. KAUKUI
HONIARA city clerk Rence Sore says the controversial procurement of fire extinguishers by the council was not put to tender because it was “just a trial”.
Because of this, there’s no need to put it out on tender, he added.
The city council purchased two containers of fire extinguishers from Jiangshan Anbao Firefighting Equipment from China.
They used $1.8 million they borrowed from a local Chinese businessman and appointed city councillor John Szetu.
Sore said Jiangshan Anbao was selected after a mere google search.
“Jiangshan Anbao was preferred because of the fact that it offers quality products at an affordable price,” he claimed.
Sore added at the time, the council has no money and so they borrowed $1.8 million from Szetu to buy off those fire extinguishers.
“The $1.8 million was given to us by our friend the appointed councillor (Szetu) with the understanding that the funds be reimbursed in due course,” he said.
Prior to that, he said the council entered into a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with Jiangshan Anbao for the procurement of the fire extinguishers.
He denied Szetu was a party to the PPP agreement.
“Szetu was merely asked to provide the council with funds to procure the fire extinguishers on a no-interest basis arrangement.”
He said that so far, only half of the two containers were sold and the delay has impacted the council’s repayment time-frame.
Asked why Szetu was storing the fire extinguishers at his premises, Sore said this was done because the council has no storage facility.