Failed book sup­plier gets ten­der

CityPress - - News - PADDY HARPER paddy.harper@city­press.co.za

Dur­ban’s Coastal KZN Tech­ni­cal and Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing (TVET) Col­lege has book­sellers fum­ing after it awarded a con­tract for the 2017 aca­demic year to the same com­pany that failed to de­liver on a R16 mil­lion text­book ten­der last year.

Now a city book­seller who had also made a bid for the ten­der has writ­ten to the col­lege’s man­age­ment and the depart­ment of higher ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing re­quest­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ten­der process, claim­ing that Haait In­vest­ments, trad­ing as Red­wood Sta­tion­ers and Book­sellers, had not met ba­sic cri­te­ria stip­u­lated by the col­lege. This in­cluded hav­ing a walk-in book shop and be­ing a mem­ber of the SA Book­sellers’ As­so­ci­a­tion. Red­wood failed to re­spond de­spite sev­eral at­tempts for comment.

In a let­ter last week, Oriel Bunt­ting of R&L Books asked for clar­ity about the ten­der process and how Red­wood won it, con­sid­er­ing it seemed not to have met the stip­u­lated cri­te­ria.

“Last year, stu­dents didn’t get books. If this ten­der had gone to a com­pany that could de­liver on time, I would have been happy, but this is not the case as the pub­lish­ers had not re­ceived or­ders in time,” she said.

Last April, City Press re­vealed that the text­book ten­der awarded to Red­wood Sta­tion­ers and Book­sellers was be­ing probed by the depart­ment, un­der which Coastal falls, for a se­ries of al­leged pro­cure­ment and place­ment ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

Coastal is the eighth TVET col­lege cam­pus be­dev­illed by stu­dent and staff protests over al­leged cor­rup­tion and mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion since 2013. Last year it aban­doned its prac­tice of buy­ing books for an es­ti­mated 15 000 stu­dents di­rectly from pub­lish­ers and in­tro­duced the ten­der process.

The col­lege coun­cil also held its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the ten­der and other al­leged fi­nan­cial ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties at the col­lege. Staff at the col­lege, who asked not to be named as they are not au­tho­rised to speak to the me­dia, said there had been no brief­ing on the out­come of the two in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Bunt­ting ar­gued that at a site meet­ing, Coastal man­age­ment had ac­knowl­edged that Red­wood had failed to de­liver on time last year and that stu­dents had been given pho­to­copied text­books. On Thurs­day, stu­dents at Coastal Col­lege’s Swin­ton Road cam­pus and two Um­lazi cam­puses said they had not yet re­ceived text­books.

Prin­ci­pal Sib­hanana Ndlovu said the bid process was over­seen by coun­cil mem­bers and three bid com­mit­tees.

“All due pro­cesses were fol­lowed and, as a re­sult, the awardee for 2017 was the low­est bid­der who has met all the cri­te­ria,” Ndlovu claimed.

Phakama Ndunakazi, pro­vin­cial sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Health Ed­u­ca­tion and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union, which asked for the orig­i­nal probe last year, said the reaward­ing of the ten­der to the same com­pany was “a prob­lem”.

Ndunakazi also con­firmed that stu­dents had again not re­ceived text­books at the col­lege.

Ndlovu said there had been some de­lays in get­ting text­books to the var­i­ous cam­puses be­cause of protests, but ar­gued that cam­pus man­agers of the in­sti­tu­tion had re­ported that 90% of books for 2017 had been de­liv­ered.

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