Govt ex­tends fleet ten­der

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Lekhetho Nt­sukun­yane

BIDVEST will con­tinue pro­vid­ing gov­ern­ment with fleet ser­vices un­til 2020 af­ter its con­tract was ex­tended by four years this week, the Le­sotho Times can re­veal.

The South African firm was ini­tially awarded the con­tract to sup­ply gov­ern­ment with ve­hi­cles and re­lated ser­vices from 1 Oc­to­ber 2015 to 31 March 2016.

The deal was ex­tended by two more months af­ter the selec­tion of a new sup­plier met with sev­eral chal­lenges, among them threats of lit­i­ga­tion by one of the com­pa­nies which had been dis­qual­i­fied from the bid­ding process.

The firm al­leged bias in the eval­u­a­tion of the ten­der and vowed to take le­gal ac­tion if the gov­ern­ment se­lected any of the three com­pa­nies which had been short­listed for the con­tract be­fore its com­plaint had been in­ves­ti­gated first.

But in an­other twist to the saga, the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to con­tinue with Bidvest, prompting yet an­other threat of lit­i­ga­tion by one of the three com­pa­nies which had been short­listed for the ten­der.

Although Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr ’Mam­phono Khaketla , who al­legedly pro­posed the deal’s ex­ten­sion be­fore cab­i­net this week, was said to be in a meet­ing each time the Le­sotho Times called for a com­ment yes­ter­day, im­pec­ca­ble sources con­firmed Bidvest had landed the lu­cra­tive con­tract de­spite never bid­ding for the ten­der.

Dr Khaketla, the sources said, man­aged to con­vince cab­i­net to ex­tend the Bidvest con­tract be­cause the com­pany had promised to rent 50 per­cent of the fleet from Ba­sotho.

But cab­i­net was said to have been di­vided over the de­ci­sion, “with one side ar­gu­ing it would seem the gov­ern­ment has vested in­ter­est in Bidvest af­ter the com­pany’s con­tract was also con­tro­ver­sially ex­tended in April this year”, one of the sources told the Le­sotho Times.

The Le­sotho Times was also told Dr Khaketla and other se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, held a meet­ing with King Let­sie III yes­ter­day to brief him about the de­ci­sion to ex­tend the Bidvest deal.

The Le­sotho Times could how­ever, not con­firm the meet­ing with His Majesty’s of­fice, while re­peated ef­forts to get a com­ment from the Min­istry of Fi­nance Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary ’Ma­palesa Ra­papa on the is­sue were fruit­less as her mo­bile phone rang unan­swered.

The Min­istry’s In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer, Keneuoe Mo­jaki, on the other hand, said “such in­for­ma­tion” about the deal’s ex­ten­sion had not reached her of­fice.

How­ever, the Le­sotho Times con­firmed last night that one of the com­pa­nies which had been eye­ing the ten­der (name with­held) yes­ter­day gave gov­ern­ment an ul­ti­ma­tum to ei­ther re­verse the de­ci­sion to ex­tend the Bidvest deal or face a law­suit.

The Le­sotho Times un­der­stands the com­pany wrote a let­ter to Dr Khaketla in­sist­ing the ex­ten­sion “would prove a gross vi­o­la­tion of gov­ern­ment’s pro­cure­ment reg­u­la­tions” be­cause Bidvest did not even bid for the con­tract.

Bidvest re­placed Avis Fleet Le­sotho — a sub­sidiary of Seahlolo Trans­port Lo­gis­tics (Pty) Ltd — af­ter re­la­tion­sre­lat be­tween gov­ern­ment and the com­pa­ny­com soured amid al­le­ga­tions and counter-ac­cusaco tions of fraud. The tw two had been in part­ner­ship since 2007.2007 Re­peated ef­forts to getg a com­ment from Bidvest were not suc­cess­fuls yes­ter­day. Mean­while, pub­lic trans­portt op­er­a­tors in Oc­to­ber 201520 de­manded that gov­ern­ment­gov­ern should ter­mi­nate the Bidvest part­ner­ship, ar­gu­ing the con­tract should not have been awarded to a for­eignowned com­pany. The op­er­a­tors gave the gov­ern­ment an ul­ti­ma­tum to ei­ther can­cel the con­tract or face le­gal ac­tion. The fol­low­ing month, the op­er­a­tors held a street march in Maseru to press their point home as they ar­gued the ten­der had been awarded to Bidvest “at the ex­pense of Ba­sotho busi­nesses”. Po­lice Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki who re­ceived the pro­tes­tors’ pe­ti­tion on be­half of Dr Khaketla, as­sured them that the gov­ern­ment would be tak­ing their griev­ances se­ri­ously. “We should lis­ten to you and prom­ise you and the pub­lic that we will ad­vise our­selves ac­cord­ingly and re­turn with an­swers. Seven days are enough to look into your prob­lems,” Mr Moleleki said.

FI­NANCE Min­is­ter Dr ’Mam­phono Khaketla

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki re­ceives the pro­tes­tors’ pe­ti­tion. FI­NANCE Min­is­ter dr ’Mam­phono Khaketla

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