Govt fleet saga deepens

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Lekhetho Ntsukunyane

A LEAKED report on the government’s fleet tender has revealed that the joint venture company seeking to block Bidvest Fleet Company’s contract was actually recommended by an evaluation panel to supply the vehicles.

The joint venture company, which consists of Fleet Service Lesotho (Pty) Ltd and Lebelonyane (Pty) Ltd (Fleet Services), had been shortlisted for the multimillion-maloti tender to provide vehicles and related services to the government.

However, after the government last month cancelled the tender and decided to sign a new contract with Bidvest, the joint venture company filed an urgent application in the Commercial Court seeking to block the government from “awarding or extending” the contract to the South African firm. The company also seeks a stay of execution on the government’s decision pending the finalisation of the case which is before Justice Thamsanqa Nomngcongo.

Announcing the new deal with Bidvest last month, Finance Minister Dr ’Mamphono Khaketla said the company would provide computerised fleet management services for the next four years.

Under the new contract, the minister said, the government would buy 600 vehicles and hire another 600 from ordinary Basotho, with Bidvest only managing the fleet. She also said the government decided to cancel the tender because it did not have enough money “to continue that route”.

However, according to a revised tender evaluation report, a copy of which the Lesotho Times has in possession, the joint venture company had been recommended as the recipient of the tender.

Dated 26 May 2016 and titled “Addendum to Original Evaluation Report of Government of Lesotho Fleet Service Tender – 7/2015-2016” the document states that it is a revised edition of the original submitted by the evaluation team on 22 March 2016.

The report was compiled by an evaluation team (ET) consisting of 10 experts from the Ministry of Finance and Neo Solutions (Pty) Limited, namely ’Mathabo Mphale, Motolo Mandoro, Maleshoane Lekomola, Seriti Keta, Motale Tšeole, Vivien Natasen, John McPherson, Ismail Amod, Linga Pillay and Kentridge Khabele.

The team had been appointed in January 2016 to project-manage, administer and assist in the appointment of a new fleet service provider with effect from 1 April 2016. The identified fleet requirement consisted of 1 100 full maintenance lease vehicles and approximately 500 managed maintenance vehicles, “as well as ad hoc vehicles required from time to time by the government to assist with temporary requirements.”

It states that Fleetmatics Vehicle Management Solutions Lesotho (Pty) Limited (Fleetmatics) and Seahlolo Transport Logistics (Pty) Limited trading as Avis Fleet Services (Seahlolo) were the other companies shortlisted for the tender.

The evaluation team notes that they revised the report because the initial edition included a reference to a “Hurdle Point”. This was in reference to, Fleetmatics Vehicle Management Solutions Lesotho which was disqualified after including pricing information in its technical proposal. Including pricing information was considered a “material violation of the requirements of the Request for Proposal (RFP).

“The evaluation team was formally requested by the Tender Panel on 23 May 2016 to revise its initial final report due to the fact that the initial report included a reference to a ‘Hurdle Point’, which it was not included in the RFP and its inclusion was not authorised by the government of Lesotho,” reads the report.

“Based on the removal of the Hurdle Point, the ET noted it was requested to reconvene to complete its evaluation report.

“Due to the fact that the removal of the Hurdle Point had no practical effect on the evaluation per se, as the two compliant bidders’ technical and financial proposals had already been evaluated and scored, the ET had to revise the contents of this findings report accordingly.”

At the conclusion of both technical and financial evaluations of the two remaining companies – Fleet Services and Seahlolo – the evaluation team recommended that the tender should be awarded to Fleet Services which scored 81.85 points against 68.21 points for Seahlolo.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Fleet Services official Lipalesa Ramphi said: “This report clearly shows that there is dishonesty here considering the date on which it was finalised, which is 26 May 2016. It is clear that someone was not happy with the outcome of this report in particular where the evaluation team recommended us as the preferred bidder.

“Through unscrupulous means, our tender was redirected to Bidvest, which didn’t even bid for the tender. The law enforcement bodies in this country should lodge an investigation over the cancellation of this tender.”

Ms Ramphi said “it was not true” the government had no money to continue with the tender.

“Where will the money the government is going to use to buy 600 cars and hire another 600 going to come from? This is just an excuse to redirect our tender to Bidvest.”

She added the report was an “additional advantage” to the joint venture company’s case before the courts.

Efforts to get a comment from Dr Khaketla proved fruitless yesterday, as she was initially said to be in a meeting and later her phone rang unanswered.

However, the ministry’s Public Relations Officer, Litemoso Thatho, told the Lesotho Times: “I cannot confirm whether the contents of that report are true or not because the report has not come to the attention of my office. However, the position of the ministry has always been clear that there is no money to continue with the tender.”

Asked on the reasons Bidvest withdrew some of its vehicles earlier this month, Ms Thatho said: “There is actually an official Savingram dated 27 June 2016 which announced that 75 percent of the Bidvest vehicles will no longer provide services to government on or before 1 July 2016.

“So we were aware that the cars would be taken away. The government, on the other hand, has not bought new cars yet, but I believe there are plans underway to fill that gap because, already, we are struggling to perform some duties after the cars were taken away from us.”

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