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) CEO Wayne Duvenage said on Tuesday that 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.
No track record
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’s linked to outgoing contractor Electronic Tolling Collections (ETC).
“Thus this 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.
Insufficient information on bidders
Duvenage said business registrations for the Phambili joint venture and SAeTO could not immediately be traced because there is 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’s 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 commence work by December 3.
Mona said the contract is 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.
Risk of wasteful expenditure
However, Outa warned on Tuesday that Sanral risked incurring wasteful expenditure by entering into a new contract, because the Gauteng e-toll decision is still subject to a legal challenge.
Duvenage said for Sanral to enter into any contract while the country awaits Cabinet’s decision on the future of the e-tolls makes no sense.
“However, that is not Sanral’s only problem because there is still a court case pending on the lawful objection to non-payment.”
“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.
Evidence of failure spanning six years
“We can’t for one minute understand why Cabinet is taking as long as it is to make an easy decision to scrap this defunct scheme, especially after six years of empirical evidence of failure,” he said.
Ayanda Allie Paine, a spokesperson for Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, told Moneyweb on Monday the task team report on e-tolls has been sent through for Cabinet processes and her understanding is that e-tolls will be included in the discussions by Cabinet “at some point before the end of the year”.
Paine stressed that everything continues as normal until Cabinet’s final announcement on e-tolls, adding that this also means Sanral would be remiss to not issue any tender or advertise anything in line with its processes.