Plan to bypass tender process in IPTS spend

In a race against time to spend R93.1-million on its troubled bus system before the April launch date, the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality wants to bypass the tender processes yet again.
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markusmarcinek via Pixabay
The news comes as about R2.5-billion was ploughed into the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) over the past nine years and only a handful of the contracts went out to tender.

City officials believe the municipality’s lengthy procurement processes would hamper its plans to have the buses on the Cleary Park route in five months’ time. Last month, the national Treasury allocated R93.1- million towards the roll-out of the project – money that must be spent by the end of the financial year, which is on 30 June.

The metro has, however, committed to a launch date in April for the Cleary Park route, which would run from Cleary Park to the Port Elizabeth central business district and NMMU.

In a confidential report to the roads and transport committee, which met yesterday, director of roads, stormwater and transportation Yusuf Gaffore proposed that the city piggybacks on existing tenders from other municipalities which have successfully implemented the IPTS.

He said the metro was battling with severe staff shortages and did not have a number of requirements in place to “go live” in April.

Some of the requirements prescribed by the Department of Transport, which Gaffore said were not in place, included an automated fare collection system, depot facilities, assessment and operational staff, vehicle operating contracts, a marketing and communications plan, a universal access plan, programme management services, and infrastructure design and implementation management.

Since its inception, the municipality has poured about R2.5-billion into the IPTS and almost all contracts over the past four years were not subjected to a bidding process.

Companies were instead handpicked through a deviation process.

The IPTS was also the subject of a forensic probe by the Treasury – a report which has yet to be released more than a year after the municipality was handed a draft.

In Gaffore’s report, he wrote that strategic decisions and creativity had to come into play for the municipality to spend all the money from the Treasury.

“[We have] scrutinised the environment in which the IPTS operates and given the available supply chain and recruitment processes, [we] came to the realisation the two most pressing objectives might not be realised.

“The municipality can therefore capitalise on the available contracts secured by [other] cities.

“Not that the initiative will be beneficial only in terms of time, but procuring services that are already tested given the cost involved in the identified outstanding services and their complexities,” Gaffore wrote.

He said the metro’s current staff organogram did not deal sufficiently with the operational requirements of the IPTS.

The political head of the committee, councillor Rano Kayser, declined to comment on Gaffore’s proposal, saying it was a confidential report which had been withdrawn because it should be handled by the administration.