Alarm over e-toll bid­der

NO RECORD: COM­PANY ‘REG­IS­TERED DAYS AF­TER TEN­DER WAS AD­VER­TISED’

The Citizen (KZN) - - News - Roy Cokayne

‘En­ter­ing into new con­tract while fu­ture of e-tolls is un­cer­tain makes no sense.’

One of the three com­pa­nies that sub­mit­ted bids in re­sponse to the SA Na­tional Roads Agency (Sanral) ten­der for the con­tin­ued man­age­ment of e-tolls was al­legedly only reg­is­tered as a busi­ness days af­ter the ten­der was first ad­ver­tised.

Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse (Outa) chief ex­ec­u­tive Wayne Du­ve­nage said on Tues­day Kusa Kokut­sha, which sub­mit­ted a bid of R7.548 bil­lion, ap­peared to have been set up specif­i­cally to bid for the Sanral con­tract.

Du­ve­nage said Kusa Kokut­sha was only reg­is­tered as a busi­ness on Au­gust 26.

Sanral orig­i­nally pub­lished the ten­der in the Govern­ment Ten­der

Bulletin on Au­gust 8. It was re­pub­lished on Au­gust 16, with a clos­ing date of Septem­ber 5. Prospec­tive bid­ders had to at­tend a com­pul­sory ten­derer’s clar­i­fi­ca­tion meet­ing on Au­gust 19.

Du­ve­nage said the date on which Kusa Kokut­sha was reg­is­tered in­di­cated that it did not have a track record as a busi­ness and that through its direc­tors, it was linked to out­go­ing con­trac­tor, Elec­tronic Tolling Col­lec­tions (ETC).

“Thus ap­pears to be ETC in a new guise,” he said.

The other two bid­ders for the ten­der, ac­cord­ing to Outa, go by the names of Pham­bili joint ven­ture (JV) and SAETO.

It said Pham­bili sub­mit­ted a bid of R11.399 bil­lion, while SAETO did not list a bid amount.

Du­ve­nage said busi­ness regis­tra­tions for the Pham­bili and SAETO could not im­me­di­ately be traced be­cause there was in­suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion on the Sanral doc­u­ment to iden­tify them.

The ten­der for the con­tin­ued man­age­ment of e-tolls was is­sued by Sanral be­cause its ex­ist­ing con­tract with ETC was last year ex­tended by a year un­til De­cem­ber 2.

Sanral con­firmed to Money­web on Mon­day that it was eval­u­at­ing ten­ders it re­ceived for the con­tin­ued man­age­ment of e-tolls.

Sanral spokesper­son Vusi Mona said that in ac­cor­dance with the ten­der pro­gramme, a new con­trac­tor must be ap­pointed to start work by De­cem­ber 3. Mona said the con­tract was for a pe­riod of 72 months, with an op­tion to ex­tend for another 24 months.

“Pro­vi­sion has been made for a handover pe­riod in the ten­der pro­gramme, to en­sure that there is no in­ter­rup­tion of e-toll ser­vices,” he said.

How­ever, Outa warned on Tues­day that Sanral risked in­cur­ring waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture by en­ter­ing into a new con­tract, be­cause the Gaut­eng e-toll de­ci­sion was still sub­ject to a le­gal chal­lenge.

Du­ve­nage said for Sanral to en­ter into a con­tract while the coun­try awaited Cab­i­net’s de­ci­sion on the fu­ture of the e-tolls made no sense.

“How­ever, that is not Sanral’s only prob­lem be­cause there is still a court case pend­ing on the ob­jec­tion to non­pay­ment,” he said.

“Should the pub­lic be found not li­able for pay­ment of e-tolls, the al­ready de­funct scheme will be dead in the wa­ter and the coun­try may be legally bound to a con­tract for up to six years.

“This may very well be­come a mat­ter of fruit­less and waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture for which civil so­ci­ety or even the au­di­tor-gen­eral could hold an in­di­vid­ual to ac­count.

“We can’t un­der­stand why Cab­i­net is tak­ing as long as it is to make an easy de­ci­sion to scrap this de­funct scheme,” he said.

Ayanda-Al­lie Paine, a spokesper­son for Trans­port Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula, said the task team re­port on e-tolls has been sent through for Cab­i­net pro­cesses and her un­der­stand­ing was that e-tolls would be in­cluded in the dis­cus­sions by Cab­i­net “at some point be­fore the end of the year”.

Paine stressed that ev­ery­thing con­tin­ued as nor­mal un­til Cab­i­net’s fi­nal an­nounce­ment on e-tolls, adding that this also meant Sanral would be re­miss to not is­sue any ten­der or ad­ver­tise any­thing in line with its pro­cesses.

Sanral risks in­cur­ring waste­ful ex­pen­di­ture

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