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A matter of 90 seconds sends government to court

Just how much of a difference can 90 seconds make? When it comes to a bid on bridge work, the Yukon government is asking the territory's Supreme Court to figure that one out.

Just how much of a difference can 90 seconds make?

When it comes to a bid on bridge work, the Yukon government is asking the territory’s Supreme Court to figure that one out.

The case, filed in the courts this week by the Department of Highways and Public Works, questions which company should be awarded the contract to replace the Tatchun Creek Bridge.

Court documents describe the steps companies take when placing bids for government work.

Tenders are issued and each project has a stated deadline for the sealed, completed bids to be submitted.

The instructions to bidders say that tenders received after that time will not be considered and will be returned unopened.

In the case of the bridgework, the tender was issued July 10 and the deadline was 4 p.m. local time on Aug. 15.

Bidders must submit their paperwork in sealed envelopes by mail, courier, or in person to the staff at the Procurement Support Centre, the court documents say. Staff date and time stamp the bid using a machine on the counter.

It has been this way for years.

On Aug. 23, staff members were testing the machine when they discovered the time stamp clock appeared to be 1 minute and 28 seconds slow.

That’s more than a week after the bridge project bids were due.

“The afternoon of Aug. 15 was unusually busy as five separate tenders were closing that day,” the documents read.

Bidders on the various contracts were waiting in the open area next to the counter so they could attend the public opening of the bids read by a staff member.

“As the 4 p.m. deadline approached, Ruben Bicudo attended the counter at the Procurement Support Centre and submitted a bid on the tender on behalf of P.S. Sidhu Trucking Ltd.

“Staff at the centre received the bid envelope and stamped it in the time stamp machine. The time stamp read 3:59,” the documents say.

“Mr. Bicudo turned to leave but then asked for his bid back. His bid was returned and he was allowed to open it and review it. Within the space of a minute he resubmitted the bid envelope.

“The resubmitted bid was sealed with tape and time stamped by the counter staff. The time stamp on the resubmitted bid read 4 p.m.”

If the clock truly was slow, that could mean Sidhu’s bid of about $4.24 million, the lowest for the project, came in after the deadline.

The next lowest bid came from CMF Construction Ltd. in Nanaimo B.C. That bid was for about $4.86 million.

Contact Ashley Joannou at