BEIRUT: A Lebanese court Tuesday rejected a plan to install surveillance cameras around the capital, ruling that the $40 million contract awarded by the Municipality of Beirut for the project was illegal.
“The Court of Accounts has decided not to agree to awarding a project to install surveillance cameras in the streets of the city of Beirut because the file of the case is not legal,” the court said in a statement.
The decision was made by Judge Abdel-Rida Nasser, chief of the Court of Accounts, and judges Ramzi Nahra and Lynan Hayek, the National News Agency reported.
However, Beirut Mayor Bilal Hamad defended the municipality’s decision to award the contract to Guardia Systems.
He said the municipality received five bids from qualified companies and chose Guardia because it was the least expensive.
“Guardia Systems is a legal company. We selected this company because it offered the lowest price and is more qualified among the five companies,” Hamad told The Daily Star. “The awarding of the contract was made by consent.”
After the court decision was made, the Municipal Council met to discuss the situation, Hamad said, adding that the case had been referred to Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk “who has the final say in this matter.”
Following a wave of deadly car bombings and suicide attacks that swept Beirut and its southern suburbs in the past two years, the government of former Prime Minister Najib Mikati proposed the installation of the CCTV cameras across the capital in an attempt to prevent further incidents.
In its statement, the Court of Accounts questioned why the Beirut Municipality had temporarily awarded the contract to install 1,500-2000 surveillance cameras around the city to Guardia Systems. It also questioned municipality’s motivation for excluding other qualified companies from involvement in the project.
“The nomination of companies in the way it was done does not conform with the rules applied in the mentioned tender,” the court said.
After reviewing the stages in which the bidding companies were selected, the court said: “It appears that the awarding [of the contract] as it was done does not conform with the measures that should be followed in the case of the restricted tender.
“The municipal council named the accepted bidders without studying their qualifications in advance.”
The court added, “Since this measure has also led to limiting the competition to the five invited companies and subsequently excluded other companies that have qualifications and material and technical capabilities to carry out this kind of deals ... this deal lacks the right legal basis and therefore, it needs not to be accepted.”