Procurement bottlenecks must not delay road programme

17 February 2011
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17 February 2011 | Angeline Albert

Efficient procurement is needed to help fill South Africa’s potholes, the nation’s transport minister has said.

In a speech made this week, Minister of Transport Sibusiso Ndebele launched the S’hamba Sonke ‘walking together’ maintenance programme, which has a total budget of R21.8 billion (US $3 billion).

He pledged that purchasing bottlenecks will not hinder the government’s plan to roll out the nationwide road maintenance programme for secondary roads. Rather, he said, efficient procurement, particularly during the tender process, was key to filling the country’s potholes.

“We will streamline the procurement process so that the necessary skills and inputs are sourced through a specially designed procurement regime… including setting up project management units in all provinces and nationally to ensure we are ready to roll by the beginning of the financial year,” he said.

Logan Maistry, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, said: “There have been certain instances where procurement efficiency and effectiveness isn’t tackled. Potential procurement bottlenecks could be in the tender adjudication process. Bid evaluation committees have buyers but also need technical experts skilled in road construction and maintenance. The department wants to ensure the right skills in this area are employed in order to get the tender specifications right. Whatever the bottlenecks, we want to overcome them and ensure procurement is giving value for money.”

Central government buyers will help provincial governments implement the programme.

Last month, the newly appointed member of the executive council for Gauteng’s roads and transport department, Ismail Vadi, asked South Africa’s auditor general to investigate 13 contracts issued between September and December 2010. The contracts include a three-year, R923 million (US$127 million) road construction deal.

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