Scholar transport operators in North West call for long term contracts

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Scholar transport operators in the North West are calling for the Department of Transport in the province to speed up the awarding of long-term tenders. They are currently operating on month-to-month contracts after the North West High Court in Mahikeng in 2020 ruled that there were irregularities with the previous tender process.

Service providers had sought legal intervention, arguing that the process was unfair because quite a number of registered service providers were not included. The court ruled in their favour and reversed the tender. Although the court ordered that a new tender process must be completed by the end of November 2020, it is still not done. Over 100 service providers have since been contracted on a month-to-month basis.

One of the aggrieved service providers, James Gadinabokao, is accusing the government and other service providers of delaying the process.

“There is an opportunistic way of people who have been there. They are given a month to month and they enjoy that irregularity of saying tender should not be awarded, the evaluation and adjudication should not proceed so that they can benefit month to month and it has come to our attention again that those people got links and network to some people in the department,” says Gadinabokao.

Some service providers say they are unable to plan ahead as they have no secure contracts. They say government should fast-track the process.

“I have a bus that needs a new engine. I am not able to spend so much money buying a new engine not knowing that I will be awarded a tender when it comes. It is not for the first time. We submitted a tender, I think it’s for the third time but every time the tender is going for re-advert and the department is not telling us what is happening,” says a service provider.

The chairperson of the South African National Small Bus Operator Council in the North West, Final Kgodumo, says they are not responsible for the delays.

“We are not in a procurement process. We are a stakeholder, we have buses in the Department of Transport and Finance there are issues that are relating to procurement it’s in not our territory. We just want this process to be fair and all the procedures to be followed in order that mistakes that were identified u the court are not repeated,” says Kgodumo.

Matter being attended

According to MEC of Transport, Sello Lehari, the matter is being attended to.

“There are some concerns from the Finance department in the province. Now we are meeting the Finance department either today or Monday to sort out the issue they raised with us. But we as the department we have started the process of appointing whereas we are in a process of appointing there was an issue from finance. We are giving that issue attention so later on I will give you a proper briefing after meeting finance,” says Lehari.

Although the matter has not impacted negatively on schooling, it remains to be seen if the tender will be finalised before the reopening of schools.