200 EC ambulances ‘stuck’

The Eastern Cape government’s fleet management entity is in a state of chaos, with a R312-million vehicle management system purchased in 2006 not being used.

The Eastern Cape department of transport purchased a transport resource management (TRM) system, which was intended to assist the provincial fleet management entity with collecting data relating to the activities of the provincial government’s more than 3000 vehicles. The system was discarded and its server is gathering dust at the entity’s West Bank offices in East London.

Instead, the department entered into another R52-million contract in 2015 with Afrirent for the installation of tracking systems in all government vehicles.

A file picture of government ambulances during a handover last year
Picture: File/Michael Pinyana

The contract did not go out to tender but was awarded to the Pretoria-based fleet management company through a “piggyback” tender – a tender provincial treasury was not aware of. They started working with the transport department in May 2015 after it piggy-backed on a similar Afrirent tender in the Tshwane Metro.

By law, the department should have received a “go- ahead” from treasury before awarding the tender, using treasury regulation 16(A)6.6, which allows the accounting officer to participate in a contract awarded by another state organ.

Provincial treasury spokesman Pumelele Godongwana late last year said they were not aware of the contract at the time the deal was struck.

Provincial transport spokeswoman Khuselwa Rantjie said the agreement to participate in the Tshwane-Afrirent contract was signed in February 2015 in line with regulation 16(A)6.6.

“At that stage, the instruction that departments needed to first source approval from provincial treasury was not applicable,” said Rantjie.

This has angered the provincial branch of Nehawu, which on several occasions wrote to transport MEC Weziwe Tikana inquiring about the discarded system.

In a letter dated May 30 2018, Nehawu’s provincial secretary Miki Jaceni asked Tikana why the system had been discarded and why the department had entered into another contract in its stead.

“There was no need whatsoever for an outsourced agreement as the (TRM) system was owned by the department itself,” Jaceni said.

The union also questioned the R52-million tracking contract, claiming that the head of department did not have the required delegations to sign it.

“We still therefore demand a forensic investigation to verify the correctness or lack thereof, so that these serious allegations are laid to rest once and for all,” he wrote.

Rantjie confirmed her department no longer used the TRM system.

She confirmed the department was now utilising a R52-million vehicle tracking system procured from Afrirent.

Asked why they had changed systems, Rantjie was unable to respond and promised to respond later.

By Wednesday last week, she was unable to respond and had still not responded yesterday.

Afrirent CEO Senzo Tsabedze said: “Afrirent has a contract obligation to the department and like any other contracts they are private and confidential.”

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