India’s state-run Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE), after slipping up on a potential order to build bridges in Peru by delaying its pre-bidding offer, is now set to enter the fray in 2016.
GRSE, which worked overtime to meet the tender norms, will take on portable bridge suppliers from the US. But the fact that defence PSUs are still not up to mark in entering export markets aggressively reflects in the fact that GRSE has to scramble for last-minute certification to enter the fray.
The biggest hindrance in state-run defence enterprise GRSE’s effort to enter Peru’s global competitive bid was that it was not into making seven-foot portable bridge panels that are in conformity with the American Highways and Transportation Officials (AASTHO).
The shipbuilder, which according to its annual report 2013-14, claims to have achieved a growth of 5% in its turnover and rendered a turnover of R1,611.67 crore, had been approached by a Peruvian company to construct Bailey bridges as part of Lima’s drive to diversify infrastructure imports.
A local company, Crossland — a Bajaj Auto dealer based in Lima, were keen on GRSE participating in the Bailey bridge project as they were convinced that the defence PSU could win the contract.
Sources revealed that two technical persons visited Lima in June this year and were not sure if they could build the bridges, despite getting a manual on how to make the Bailey bridges that Peru has. GRSE has been into five-foot portable bridge panels to suit Indian requirement and did not have required certification to even bid for Peruvian contract.
In an e-mailed response, GRSE confirmed to FE that since the required certification was now with them, they would submit the bid for Peruvian portable bridges contract and take on the Chinese and possibly other rivals.
S Mathivanan, chief general manager with GRSE, said that the company is “extremely keen to participate in the bidding process for supply of portable bridges to government of Peru and it is one of our top priority projects”.
The GRSE official admitted that the company “has not been in a position to participate in the bidding process at Peru so far owing to technical reasons”. The defence PSU claimed that the certification, prototypes for seven-foot portable bridges panels would be in place shortly to enter the fray next year.
Optimism from GRSE notwithstanding, diplomatic officials maintained that the state-run company might have slipped up on the project as it has not even cared to respond to e-mails from the Peruvian company. Diplomatic sources pointed to the GRSE gaffe saying that the company has not even responded to Indian embassy overtures in Lima on the contract.
The ministry of external affairs has been pushing the country’s DPSUs to promote their wares overseas and it was under this initiative that DPSU like GRSE started talks with various countries offering to build warships for friendly nations.