More flawed Metrobus tenders found

Internal audit reports reveal more irregular Metrobus procurement dealings — flawed tender awards that go against the government’s strategic objectives.

The Mail & Guardian reported last week that Johannesburg’s Metrobus ignored audit advice and proceeded to award a R200‑million fuel supply tender, despite concerns that many processes had been openly disregarded.

This week, the M&G has gained possession of two reports by audit company PwC this year, which found several irregularities in Metrobus awarding two three-year contracts to Prestige Motor Spares Wholesalers CC in 2016 for the supply and delivery of batteries and various Mercedes Benz parts.

PwC said the awards compromised “the principles of fairness, transparency, nonbias towards a predetermined outcome, competitiveness and cost-effectiveness”.

“Evaluators may not have received adequate training before evaluating tenders, resulting in biased allocation of scores, as well as suppliers may have been incorrectly qualified for further evaluation. The prescribed criteria is very subjective and open to interpretation … As a result, scoring between evaluators differed,” PwC said in one of the reports.

Sabatha Makoele, former acting managing director of Metrobus, requested PwC to review the commercial process followed for the procurement of the goods, because the same supplier was shortlisted and recommended for both contracts.

“This awarding of contracts to one supplier is noncompliant with government’s strategic objective of ensuring that there is an even spread between suppliers,” PwC said.

The reports also reveal that the bidding process for the awarding of the tender was flawed. An inspection of the bid compliance checklist compiled by Metrobus’s commercial evaluation team reveals that five suppliers submitted proposals and went through to the next stage of evaluation. But three of them should have been disqualified because they did not submit original tax clearance certificates.

The team was found to be inconsistent, deviating from initial mandatory requirements, to allow some of the bidders to proceed for the second leg of evaluation.

“The process may be deemed unfair, biased and not competitive, resulting in possible litigation from suppliers, as not all tenders were evaluated correctly. Metrobus’s reputation may be compromised and may result in negative media scrutiny,” PwC said.

“Management should consider formal training for all procurement practitioners so that they have the ability to identify original documents from the colour copies to ensure consistency in evaluation,” it said.

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said he was worried about the extent of the corruption at Metrobus.

“Metrobus is one of those entities that have worried me from the moment I took office. The transport service has been burning the city’s money for years and it is showing no signs of letting up. We have been monitoring them for a while and we have consequently put in place a few short-term solutions to try to deal with what’s happening to the entity, because the situation there is not something that you can turn around overnight,” he said.

He added, though, what the city will launch an investigation into Metrobus.

“We are the only metro with an investigations team. The team is led by General [Shadrack] Sibiya [head of the city’s internal investigations] and, believe me, once we have gathered all the relevant facts, we will launch an investigation.”

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