WERE ESKOM CLEAN­ING CON­TRACTS RIGGED?

CityPress - - Business - LE­SETJA MALOPE le­setja.malope@city­press.co.za

Con­tracts worth mil­lions of rands awarded by power util­ity Eskom in KwaZulu-Natal have been ques­tioned by in­sid­ers and los­ing bid­ders.

A to­tal of 13 com­pa­nies con­tested the clean­ing and fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment con­tracts, but only two of them were cho­sen for R64.2 mil­lion work.

How­ever, Eskom, in an un­usual turn of events and against pro­fes­sional ad­vice, in­creased the price of the con­tracts by R13.2 mil­lion to R77.4 mil­lion.

This is what Eskom al­legedly did when a ten­der com­mit­tee led by its gen­eral man­ager in KwaZulu-Natal, Monde Bala, al­legedly flouted sev­eral reg­u­la­tions to hand the con­tract to Mfesi Clean­ing Ser­vices and To­tal Serve Fa­cil­i­ties Man­age­ment.

Ac­cord­ing to documents seen by City Press, the com­mit­tee over­looked sev­eral reg­u­la­tions to award the ten­der to Mfesi and dis­re­garded a pro­fes­sional quan­tity sur­veyor’s opinion, which rec­om­mended against the con­tin­u­a­tion of the Mfesi con­tracts for three sites, in­clud­ing at Eskom’s Em­pan­geni and Pi­eter­mar­itzburg of­fices.

Mfesi’s con­tract was val­ued at R52.7 mil­lion, up from R44 mil­lion, while To­tal Serve’s con­tract was upped from R12.3 mil­lion to R15.1 mil­lion.

Among the ser­vices listed to be pro­vided at the dif­fer­ent sites are clean­ing, laun­dry and re­moval of front-line ser­vices.

The rec­om­men­da­tion only fin­gered Mfesi’s con­tract – not both com­pa­nies’.

“Mfesi can ei­ther con­tinue with the price as per the con­tract signed or ter­mi­nate and fol­low the cor­rect con­tract man­age­ment process. Eskom can choose to reis­sue this con­tract at a com­mon base sched­ule or con­tinue to use as per le­gal ad­vice, pend­ing clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the ten­dered rates. Bear­ing in mind there might be le­gal reper­cus­sions from the un­suc­cess­ful ten­ders,” the rec­om­men­da­tion reads.

Bala de­nied see­ing any re­port that rec­om­mended that the con­tract be con­tin­ued at the ini­tial price or can­celled, and in­stead said the com­pany’s own in­ter­nal le­gal ad­viser, which re­ported to him, said they should con­tinue with the ten­der.

Among the find­ings in the same re­port were that the pric­ing struc­ture used was in­cor­rect, and that the bill of quan­ti­ties (BoQ) sub­mit­ted to the quan­tity sur­veyor was not the same one sub­mit­ted in the ten­der doc­u­ment and showed a num­ber of dis­crep­an­cies.

The re­port fur­ther states that: “Had the ne­go­ti­a­tions and the clar­i­fi­ca­tion meet­ing been car­ried out, the con­tract would not have been awarded due to the in­con­sis­tency and er­rors in the BoQ and the new engi­neer­ing con­tract.”

The ten­der was ad­justed two months into the 36-month con­tract in March this year.

The Eskom mod­i­fi­ca­tion re­port gives six rea­sons why the price of the con­tracts were hiked, in­clud­ing ex­tra work, ser­vices not re­quired, items that weren’t orig­i­nally ten­dered for and were now in­cluded, an am­bigu­ous price list and ad­just­ments for over­heads.

Mfesi Clean­ing Ser­vices’ sole di­rec­tor, Jan­net Dube, de­clined to com­ment.

The sole di­rec­tor of To­tal Serve, Than­deka Ndlovu, said the ad­just­ment was be­cause of over­heads that were not in­cluded in the ini­tial ten­der and when asked why that was so, she re­ferred the mat­ter to Eskom.

Eskom spokesper­son Khulu Phasiwe said: “Con­tracts are ad­justed in line with Eskom’s pro­cure­ment and sup­ply chain man­age­ment pol­icy. The ad­just­ments were made to en­sure com­pli­ance with statu­tory obli­ga­tions by both par­ties, hence Eskom can­not dis­close con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion with its sup­plier,” he said.

Asked why the rec­om­men­da­tion was ig­nored, Phasiwe said Eskom con­sid­ered var­i­ous op­tions to min­imise risk.

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