City’s fleet shambles

2010-04-30 00:00

THE average age of the vehicle fleet of the Msunduzi Municipality is three-and-a-half times older than it should be and the total replacement cost will come to more than R300 million.

This finding has emerged from a study conducted by Akhatech (Pty) Ltd and Deloitte Consulting and it sent shockwaves through yesterday’s executive committee (Exco) meeting.

According to the study, which was undertaken to determine the best way of managing the municipality’s fleet, fleet management is not being performed as effectively as it should be.

Representatives of the company that conducted the study said they had trouble gathering some information because senior managers in various business units failed to submit the necessary questionnaires on time.

Of the 1 041 fleet items inspected — which are valued at R58 million in total — 36% are between 10 to 15 years old, 30% are more than 15 years old, 21% are between five to 10 years old, and the remaining 15% are five years old and newer.

The study also found that there has been a steady decrease in purchases of new fleet vehicles, which, when coupled with the figures above, has led to an increase in maintenance and external hiring costs.

Other key findings are that :

• vehicle abuse is rife

• there is poor control of hired vehicles

• there is a lack of critical information

• capacity is limited at all levels

• staff morale is low

The study also discovered that 53 fleet items could not be accounted for, among them 38 trailers, three tractors, a truck, a minibus, an LDV and a grave digger.

Exco was also told that staff from the office of the recently ousted mayor, Zanele Hlatshwayo, refused to let them inspect six vehicles allocated to her office.

The study also found that some process managers had interfered in some departments by not filling key posts that would have solved a lot of problems.

Half the posts need to be filled but still vacant and the entire mechanical division is hamstrung because certain functions cannot be performed, according to the study.

Msunduzi administrator Johann Mettler welcomed the study, saying a second phase will be of great help to the municipality.

He said the study needs to proceed to its second phase because the findings are desperately needed. He added, however, that he would need to engage with the report before it is laid before Exco.

“We need a complete analysis of the impact on the current situation and how it will impact the running of the municipality: for instance, wastage, lack of management, lack of maintenance and the impact on service delivery, because clearly things are not working now,” Mettler said.

Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said the second phase needs to tell the council what it needs, give it options on the best way forward and point out the budgetary implications.

“We need this by the end of May at the latest,” Tarr said.

Democratic Alliance caucus leader Bill Lambert was shocked by the findings.

“Every presentation seems to get more alarming than the previous one. We also need to look at theft and missing vehicles and stop that from escalating. We also need to address the misuse of fuel.”

Mettler said each business unit’s manager will prepare a report about its fleet for a discussion on Monday and the findings will then be brought to Exco.

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