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PPADB, DPS, Director of Roads caught up in P28 million tender row

Publishing Date : 11 February, 2019

Author : UTLWANANG GASENNELWE

A contractor has raised a red flag over what he says are matters of clear malpractice and maladministration of government funds. In a scathing letter passed to Weekend Post, Moira (Pty) Ltd attorney raises some basic contractual contraventions between Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), department of Roads and the contractor awarded.


The contractor conferred, Emark (Pty) Ltd, has been awarded the tender in question at a whopping P28 million under dubious circumstances. The tender comprises a “works contract for the resealing and road marking of Tshootsha – Mamuno road section II (40km) tender no. MTC 240/55/2017-2018.” Office of the President has this week been informed of the tender dispute.  


In the dispute, Kgotso Botlhole of Lekorwe Legal Consultants, on behalf of Moira (Pty) Ltd, urged the OP in a scathing letter to halt implementation of the said multimillion road project until the matter is resolved at the courts. Information reaching Weekend Post suggests that the contractor (Emark) wants to implement the project so that they use the move as an excuse in case they lose the matter at the courts – where they believe it will be too late.   


In the said letter to OP titled, “complaint of serious maladministration by the Director of the Department of Roads and the Chairperson of the Ministerial Tender Committee (MTC) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication/Moira (Pty) Ltd, (which is the client) /PPADB, Attorney General and Emark Enterprises (Pty) Ltd – case no: UAHGB – 00029 – 19” the contractor queries some essential tender procedures in the awarding of the tender.


The letter dated 5 February 2019 and which was copied to Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Kabelo Ebineng as well as to PPADB urges Permanent Secretary to the President, Carter Morupisi to tread carefully not to implement the project until justice is reached.


“Our client is currently engaged in litigation commenced on an urgent basis against the Department of Roads (represented by AG) seeking to halt the implementation of a works contract titled “a works contract for the resealing and road marking of Tshootsha – Mamuno road section II  (40km) tender no. MTC 240/55/2017-2018” which was awarded to Emark (Pty) Ltd,” attorney Botlhole told the highest decision making office in the country.  


He further pointed out that having perused Maipelo Ragalase’s affidavit, who is the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate Services) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication, there are certain matters of clear malpractice and maladministration of government funds which have been committed by both herself and the Director of Roads.


Chief among the irregularities he cited that: “first, the Director of Roads issued a notice of commencement handing over the site to Emark without first having received a performance bond giving security in favour of the government of Botswana for Emark’s performance of the works.” This is notwithstanding that in the letter of acceptance concluding a contract with Emark for the performance of the works, a certain paragraph in question therefore clearly provides that:


“You shall agree to submit a Performance Security bond of 5% of the amount as stated in this letter of acceptance as per clause 4.2 of condition of contract for construction for building and engineering works designed by the employer within 28 calendar days from the date of acceptance of this letter (date of signing the contract acknowledgement), following the receipt of which, the engineer’s order to commence work will be issued,” the lawyer pointed this to OP as his main area of ‘emphasis.’  


He stressed that the letter of acceptance is dated 17 December 2018 while Emark issued a letter dated 14 January 2019 apparently attaching a performance bond only issued by Old Mutual two days later, and on 16 January 2019. “Irrespective of when the bond was actually provided between these two dates, the Director has already issued a notice to Emark for the commencement of the works on 11 January 2019,”Botlhole highlighted to the Office of the President.


He also claimed to OP that the Director of Roads, Modisa Segokgo, authorized the occupation of site and the commencement of works by a civil contractor for a project awarded in the amount of P 28, 046, 343. 22 to be paid by the government, “without first ensuring that security is furnished to the government for the performance of the contract by Emark.”


The Moira company attorney, which lost the bid in the second position as they ran short of half a million to reach the 28 million mark, said “this is a clear act of unlawful maladministration inexplicably placing the government at an unnecessary and wholly avoidable fiscal risk. This behavior does not conform with the letter of acceptance, nor to any standard government practice.”  


Secondly, the attorney further told OP that PPADB, acting in terms of Regulation 79(1) of the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Regulations S.I. 12 of 2006 (Regulations) issued a directive to the Chairperson of the MTC and the Department of Roads to cease all procurement processes related to the tender pending the resolution of their client’s complaint, which was pending before it. The letter communicating this directive is dated 11 January 2019, he said.  


“In her affidavit Ag. DPS (Corporate Services) Ragalase claims to have only seen the letter on 16 January 2019, after the Director had (unlawfully) issued a notice to commence the works. Be that as it may, the actions of both Ms. Ragalase and the Director thereafter do not demonstrate any level of adherence to the directive issued by PPADB,” Botlhole pointed out.


This is so because, he said a payment certificate was submitted in favour of Emark for the mobilization (advance payment) of the project on the very next day of 17 January 2019; and on 25 January 2019, the payment certificate was checked by one L. Lekgaotswe and approved on this date. Thereafter, he added that the Director of Roads inspects the certificate and requests that payment be made on 29 January 2019.


He continued: “he does so despite having been served with our client’s application on the same date. The payment is then received by the accounts department on 30 January 2019 and sent to government revenue office on 31 January 2019.” According to Botlhole, the conduct of both the Director and Ms. Ragalase clearly disregards the directive issued to them by PPADB and Regulation 79(1). Instead of seeking to halt the implementation of the works, he said they do the opposite, frantically seeking to implement the contract without following due process, such as taking receipt of the relevant bonds, and awaiting a decision from the PPADB. As at the date of this letter, he mentioned that the PPADB is yet to determine his client’s complaint.


Thirdly, and similar to how the Director issued a notice to commence without first taking receipt a performance bond from Emark, the Director has authorised the payment of advance payment without first taking receipt of the advance payment guarantee (bond), the attorney highlighted to Carter Morupisi.


“We believe these administrative irregularities by both the Chairperson and the Director are serious in nature, and warrant that your esteemed office investigate what we have alleged in herein and take disciplinary action against both the Director and the Chairperson. It appears quite clearly to us that they are hastily trying to implement the award of the tender, on the misguided belief that this will frustrate the relief sought by our client in the intended review application.”


Conduct such as what we have detailed above seriously erodes public confidence in the procurement processes employed by government, he said adding that there is no rational/acceptable reason to explain the conduct of these two officers. “If the government itself does not comply with the laws it created, it losses its legitimacy and becomes a catalyst for inexplicable and corrupt practices. These officers must be called to account, and we beseech your esteemed office to act accordingly,” he said.  


Temporarily, when approached for a comment on the matter, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport and Communication Kabelo Ebineng said he cannot immediately remember details to the disputed matter and instead referred this publication to the Director of Roads Segokgo. Segokgo was said to be outside the office at the time of press. However, his deputy, Kitso Chibule spoke to this publication but could not be drawn into the issue at hand and instead referred this reporter back to the PS in the Ministry.


Meanwhile, in the court case PPADB is one of the respondents cited in the matter and they have not opposed the relief sought by Moira and they have instead filed a notice to abide. AG filed an answering affidavit opposing the application on behalf of both the Chairperson of the MTC and the Department of Roads.


The affidavit is disposed to by Maipelo Ragalase, the acting Deputy Permanent Secretary (Corporate Services) in the Ministry of Transport and Communication. She is also the Chairperson of the MTC in question.
The parties appeared before Acting Judge Khan on 31 January 2019, who decided having heard the parties briefly, that the AG be given time to file its answering affidavit before the matter is heard on 6 February 2019. The case continues.

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