Board seeks to rein in Sanral CEO

2011-11-19 16:43

The board of the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) wants to investigate the agency’s long-serving chief executive, Nazir Alli, for misconduct.

The outgoing board, whose term ends on November 30, has written to Transport Minister S’bu Ndebele, asking for his permission to rein in Alli for allegedly continually ignoring direct instructions from the board.

Yesterday Ndebele confirmed he had received the board’s letter two months ago, but wanted the incoming board to “deal with the issues” surrounding Alli’s conduct.

This was also confirmed by three independent sources with intimate knowledge of the dispute between Alli and Sanral’s eight-member board.

Sanral has been in the spotlight over its decision to push through an expensive e-tolling scheme for South Africa’s highways.

It is understood that the board unanimously voted to approach Ndebele to intervene after simmering tensions between it and Alli, who has been at the helm of Sanral’s since the agency was set up 13 years ago.

“He (Alli) is praying for the month to end,” said a serving board member.  Another board member, who asked to remain anonymous, said fellow board members were “extremely frustrated” at being ignored and “taken for granted” by Alli.

The board wrote to Alli informing him about their intention to write to Ndebele. Said the board member: “It is the second time. We told him we were frustrated about transformation at Sanral and the fact that big contracts are awarded to the same companies.

“We wanted to bring in an independent company to benchmark Sanral when it comes to transformation, but he (Alli) flatly ignored our instruction.”

The board accused Alli of keeping information from members and hiding behind his ANC membership. Said the official: “We asked for a company to come and wanted to know why there wasn’t an African woman in the top executive.

“When we told him we were frustrated, his arrogant response was that he is an ANC member and can go to Luthuli House whenever he wants.”

The board accused Alli of blocking attempts to introduce its 10-year transformation strategy. The board believes the agency’s executive is untransformed.

Said the official: “He blocked those lawful instructions from the board for six months. But when we told him we wanted to charge him, he was frightened. He didn’t say a word at the next board meeting. We didn’t want to take drastic action without informing the minister because our term is coming to an end.”

Another transport department insider said Alli could not be faulted on the e-tolling debacle, but insisted Sanral and the Gauteng provincial government should have done more to consult and communicate with motorists about the tariffs intended for the project.

Ndebele’s spokesperson, Logan Maistry, said he would deliver a hand-over report to the new board.  Sanral chairperson Lot Ndlovu declined to comment, and Alli and Sanral spokesperson Priya Pillay did not respond to questions sent to them.

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