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Jan 13, 2011

AG to probe 13 Gauteng roads and transport contracts

Gauteng Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi discusses the investigation by the Auditor-General into the possible irregularities in contracts. (13-01-2011) Camera work and editing: Darlene Creamer
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The Gauteng Roads and Transport Department has asked the Auditor-General to investigate 13 contracts, worth about R1-billion, which were awarded between September 1 and December 15.

The Auditor-General would probe whether there was due diligence on the part of departmental officials and compliance with the established regulatory framework, Roads and Transport MEC Ismail Vadi said on Thursday.

The contracts under investigation related to the R900-million worth of contracts for the construction of roads over three years, the R49-million provision of security to premises and buildings of the department and the R1,3-million intelligent number plate project.

It also included the R35-million establishment of new driver-learner testing stations, the R4-million installation of a biometric verification system and the R20-million construction and renovation at a building.

A preliminary review of available departmental records conducted by the MEC’s office and the Auditor-General had shown that there were grounds for a further, in-depth investigation into the matter.

Most of the contracts were awarded shortly after the appointment of the new MEC on November 3, when the government was reshuffled.

Although Vadi officially took over the position on November 3, he was abroad at the time and only returned on November 10, to take up office.

The MEC had urged the Auditor-General to complete the investigation as soon as possible, so that it does not compromise the Gauteng government’s programmes of building roads and meeting the service delivery commitments.

The investigation, which started on Monday, would take 12 weeks to complete.

Vadi said that no officials were suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, but added that disciplinary or criminal action would be taken, if irregular or wrongful conduct was uncovered.

Meanwhile, the MEC stated that the single most significant challenge to the Department of Roads and Transport was its perceived negative public image.

“Whether it is true or not, the perception exists that the department’s procurement and tender processes lacked integrity and transparency,” he noted.

Vadi expressed his determination to ensure integrity in the procurement process in the department.

“The current investigation will hopefully either reveal compliance with regulatory framework or show up weaknesses in the system that will have to be rectified,” he said.

Edited by: Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Researcher and Deputy Editor Online
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