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'Bulawayo companies to blame for tender losses'

by Staff reporter
07 Feb 2020 at 05:46hrs | Views
BULAWAYO City Council has said some companies based in the city fail to meet tender requirements but end up crying foul after losing to outsiders.

Local businesses have in the past complained that the local authority was sidelining them in the awarding of tenders. However, council officials have blamed local companies for failing to do proper paperwork resulting in them losing to outsiders.

Speaking at a Policy Dialogue meeting on Private contracting which was organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents' Association (BPRA) led by Mr Ambrose Sibindi yesterday, the city's Director of Engineering Services, Engineer Simela Dube, said there was a misconception that council automatically awards tenders to lowest bidders yet there were a number of factors to be considered in the tender awarding process.

Councillor Silas Chigora led the council team that included Bulawayo Town Clerk, Mr Christopher Dube, Acting Procurement Manager Mr Mlungelwa Khumalo, Director of Health Services Dr Edwin Sibanda and Public Relations Officer Mrs Nesisa Mpofu, among others at the meeting.

"We don't award the lowest bidder. We award the lowest responsive bid. Many fail to pay the tender bid security. You cannot put up one tower light in Lupane and when we want 16 tower lights, you tell us you have done a job of similar nature. You have to have the financial capacity to do the project and allow us to check your bank statement. Sometimes they fail to meet the requirements, then we have to outsource, leading to an outcry," said Eng Dube.  

He said some partners and funders insist on regulatory processes to be followed hence council does not source for services locally if local companies do not meet requirements.

"We have been trying to educate the businesses on tender regulations and requirements. Most of our local contractors fall short especially in some of our African Development Bank projects," Eng Dube said.

He said it was prudent for local companies to put their papers in order and Bulawayo companies should engage consultants to teach them what is required before submitting their applications.

"What is important is that they must have capacity to justify why they are being prioritised ahead of other companies from outside. So, the first port of call is that our people should be empowered. They should learn to engage project managers, people who can assist them in producing credible documents. Things should be done professionally," said Eng Dube.  

Meanwhile, the council's Chamber Secretary, Mrs Sikhangele Zhou, said council has engaged its lawyers to recover a cremator that has been stuck in South Africa for over two years due to import complications between the South African Revenue Authority and council's contractor.  

She said council was also working to recover more than US$300 000 which was lost in a botched ambulance and vehicle tracking system deal after engaging briefcase companies from Harare. Mrs Zhou said in the cremator deal, SARS impounded it as its documents did not indicate that it was in transit to Zimbabwe but seemed to be destined for South Africa.

"The cremator arrived in South Africa. It was held because the papers did not indicate that it was in transit. They went to court in South Africa with the contractor over the issue. We have now taken over. It's in our interest. It's easier to get the cremator than cash refund. We have contracted our own lawyers to try and release the cremator in South Africa. We hope our lawyers will pursue that using provisions to our satisfaction," said Mrs Zhou.  

"For ambulances, we got a judgment to get our money back. We faced a challenge in looking for the company. They changed addresses. We looked for a tracer and it took a lot of time to find them. We finally found directors but the company had since closed. We then approached the courts to seek to lift the corporate veil and deal with them directly as directors but the matter is still pending at the civil courts. Prosecutors initially declined to prosecute but the investigation officer has revived the matter and the prosecutor will call us. For now, we are waiting. We have the judgement from the civil court, so we now wait for the lifting of the corporate veil."

Source - chroncile