BY NQOBANI NDLOVU/ SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
BULAWAYO City Council (BCC) has dumped a company owned by the Harare City Council (HCC) it had awarded a tender to provide money-spinning parking metier services in the city under controversial circumstances.
Last year there were allegations that HCC’s Easipark had pampered some Bulawayo councillors in a five-star hotel junket and with other goodies to influence the tendering process of the parking meter services.
This resulted in the Local Government ministry taking an interest in the matter and launching a probe into BCC’s tender management and procurement operations.
Councillor Silas Chigora told a recent stakeholders meeting that councillors had re-opened the tender process for parking meter services.
“We have opened expressions of tenders from Bulawayo companies and others from across the country to provide the parking management services for the city.
“The deadline for the submission of tendering documents is February 20,” Chigora said.
“The parking meter system is coming very soon and we believe it will benefit the people of Bulawayo.”
The event was organised by the Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association (BPRA) and drew various stakeholders from council, academia, the private sector, legal experts, civic society and residents.
BPRA coordinator Emmanuel Ndlovu said the meeting was necessary to “understand the merits of contracting-out key service delivery functions to private firms as opposed to producing in-house”.
The parking management services tender in Bulawayo was cancelled in 2012 by BCC despite having granted it to Megalithic Marketing Private Limited.
BCC cited a “shambolic tendering” process in cancelling the tender.
This resulted in a long court battle with the company contesting council’s decision to cancel the tender and award it to Easipark.
Council defended the move saying Easipark had made an unsolicited bid for the tender.
Meanwhile, council also defended its “love” of contracting companies from outside Bulawayo despite evidence that some of them had fleeced the local authority of millions in dodgy deals.
“We have to strike a balance that as we protect the local companies, we also consider issues of quality service and capacity of which many fail in that regard forcing us to contract companies from Harare and other places,” said Mlungelwa Khumalo, the BCC procurement manager at the same policy dialogue event.
BCC engineering services department director Simela Dube added: “Many (Bulawayo) companies fail to pay the tender bid security.
“They fail to meet financial requirements such as having bank guarantees…we then are forced to outsource, leading to an outcry.”
Council has lost several thousands of dollars to briefcase companies from outside the city that would have won various tenders for different projects but fail to provide the services.
BCC lost more than $300 000 to a briefcase Harare company in an ambulance procurement deal in 2010 after paying for the supply of six ambulances. The company disappeared without a trace.
Council also risks losing another $100 000 in a dodgy deal with a South African company that is now failing to supply a cremation machine.
South African engineering firm Terracotta Private Limited is also failing to make any meaningful progress in the construction of the Egodini
mall despite having won the tender five years ago.