Interstate Bus Lines tender still in question

Interstate Bus Lines tender still in question

In a matter that seems to throw the Free State Department of Transport under the bus, Interstate Bus Lines (IBL) has been accused of operating the multimillion-rand contact illegally.

Activist Zwelakhe Msabe has slammed the major bus operator for “using ANC connections to get irregular contracts and favours with the Free State Department of Transport”.

In 2018, Msabe was dealt with an interdict to remove content about IBL from his personal Facebook account. But Msabe has come back baying for Interstate’s blood.

Msabe originally claimed that IBL’s tariff hikes were irregular, an accusation he says he will not withdraw.

Now, Msabe is claiming that the tender contract between IBL and the Department of Community Safety and Transport in the Free State is unlawful.

According to Msabe, in 1998 IBL, a company with business registration 2002/001497/07, won a tender.

This tender, however, expired in November 2003 and was extended by a year to November 2004 and followed by month-on-month extensions.

Interstate is also accused of using ANC “cadres” as frontrunners in the business so they can negotiate for the business.

Msabe revealed that Interstate’s CEO LG Mokgothu was an ANC councillor in Thaba Nchu. The Star was also informed PC Posholi, a board director at Interstate, was a deputy director at Roads and Transport.

Msabe claims that Posholi was “doing Interstate’s bidding inside government and simply skipped the floor into Interstate when the time was right”.

Msabe said that in 2006 Interstate Bus line extended for further five years by the department.

However on March 2006, on the first day of the extended tender contract, it was transferred to Itumele Bus Lines – without the permission of the Department of Community Safety, Roads and Transport and without the Competition Commission’s approval.

“We now know that from November 2019 another extension was issued to the applicant with no end in sight.

“There’s evidentiary proof that the decision to extend expired tender(s) on February 28, 2006 a day before it was transferred to the applicant (Itumele bus lines) was to ensure that the PFMA, PPPA and Constitutional prescripts were to not be adhered to. When IBL took me to court, Judge AJ Berry ignored my submission when making his decision,” Msabe said.

Furthermore, he said that he failed to understand why none of the government officially saw anything wrong in awarding IBL a contract without following proper channels.

“They clearly didn’t have a contact because there is no evidence that such a gender was ever advertised. How is a tender worth hundreds of millions just given to a company without due process being followed? Did government not see anything wrong with this?

“The relationship between the ANC and Interstate Bus Lines isn’t a new one. It is time for political parties to take them on,” Msabe said.

Interstate chief operations officer Christo du Plessis denied that his company was involved in a corrupt contract with the state.

Du Plessis said everything the company did was above board, saying they were operating within the national transport laws.

“We are legit; our contract was extended lawfully by the national Department of Transport. The five years contract extension we have currently was also extended by the government.

“We are treated the same way as other transport guys. Our contract is like that one of the likes of Putco and Arrows, we are not being treated differently,” Du Plessis said.

He concluded by inviting The Star to their offices to check and verify the contract paperwork.

Interstate spokesperson Vuyo Ondala said he was not able to respond to our enquiry, but he instead referred us to the Free State Department of Transport.

“Thank you for your enquiry however, we are not in a position to answer your questions, we believe that the Department of Community Safety, Roads and Transport are best placed to respond to your questions,” he said.

The departmental spokesperson, Hillary Mophethe, acknowledged that IBL had been awarded a tender by the department, adding that the contract allowed the bus operator to ferry people from Thaba Nchu, Botshabelo and Bloemfontein.

”In addition to that, the operator is given an operating licence, and certificate of fitness to operate,” Mophethe said.

On the question of why the bus operator was awarded a tender without going through the normal tender process, Mophethe said it was because the contract was underfunded, saying that the current legislation required that the department must have funds prior to advertising the tender.

“As soon as the department secures funding, the department might put the tender out on advertisement.”

The Star