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City toilet tender ‘stinks’

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"Failure to implement the project in the current financial year, will symbolise poor performance by the municipality..."

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SOL PLAATJE Municipality has approved an R11 million tender for the construction of toilets in Kutlwanong, Kagisho and Phomolong, where an additional R4.9 million deviation was approved as an “exceptional case” for fear of having to surrender unspent grant funds of R14 million at the end of June.

The tender was advertised on December 12, 2018 and was awarded a few working days before the end of the current financial year (end of June).

The project was funded by the Department of Water and Sanitation and was scheduled for completion at the end of June 2019.

An instruction was made to make use of the available budget in the current year and next financial year, for the deviation certificate, as there were insufficient funds in the available budget.

The official order was made out for the installation of 642 toilets, with a unit price of R16 016.09. This amount was scratched out on the requisition form for the deviation, where it was re-written that there would be 267 toilets installed at a unit price of R18 415.51, although both forms arrive at a total amount of R4.9 million.

On June 26, the bid adjudication committee was advised that the tender was awarded with the deviation to a service provider on an urgent basis as the municipality ran the risk of losing R14 million of unspent grant funds at the end of June.

The bid adjudication committee recommended that the tender should be re-advertised.

The bid adjudication committee advised that the item be put in abeyance pending legal advice and input was obtained from National Treasury regarding procurement, where two parallel processes were running – the open tender and the deviation.

It was pointed out that there were no supporting documents to motivate for the deviation.

The bid adjudication committee wanted clarity as to why the item was sent for deviation before it was presented to them.

Seven competitive bidders, including the successful bidder, were disqualified for submitting incorrect documents.

It was noted that during the tender evaluation process, it was discovered that all the bidders did not receive the correct information on which to base their tenders, where bidders who submitted the wrong documents were given an opportunity to submit the correct information relating to price items not included in the revised bill of quantities.

In the motivation for the deviation, the bid committee was advised that the municipality could be exposed to unnecessary litigation processes if standard procurement processes were followed.

“The scope of work to be undertaken is critical and failure to implement the project in the current financial year, will symbolise poor performance by the municipality which will unsettle the project sponsor.”

Spokesperson for Sol Plaatje Municipality Sello Matsie pointed out that deviations were allowed when necessary.

“The project was implemented so that Sol Plaatje Local Municipality can meet the mandate in the Bill of Rights which sets out the right to dignity. The majority of these toilet facilities were constructed more than 30 years ago using corrugated sheet material and are in a dilapidated condition, which compromises the integrity of the beneficiaries. The project is funded by the Department of Water and Sanitation through the water services infrastructure grant,” said Matsie.

He explained that the tender was advertised by way of an open tender in December 2018.

“Due to challenges with uploading the document on E-tender and bidders not being able to download it, issuing of addendum, the closing date was extended twice. The evaluation was done and presented to the bid evaluation committee (BEC). Due to bidders submitting different returnable information, as set out in the addendum, the BEC could not make an informed decision. It recommended that the bid be re-advertised following numerous attempts to evaluate the bid. However, in terms of Construction Industry Development Board regulations it is mandatory to have a cooling period of six months and scope change, before the tender can be re-advertised.”

Matsie added that the project would be phased over a number of years.

“Failure to appoint the suitable and qualified service provider in the financial year 2018/19 would have major financial impact in securing future funding from the sponsor. In order to ensure that the appointment process, the technical report prepared by the consulting engineering firm, together with the bid evaluation committee scoring chart, was clearly detailed in the deviation certificate. The process of preparing and approving the deviation certificate was followed to the letter. In terms of internal processes, the deviation certificate was approved and an order was issued in the name of the preferred bidder.”

Matsie stated that the successful bidder met all the criteria, where it scored the highest rank and had submitted the lowest bid.