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How to make a million or 10

16 January 2012, 10:43
This is a fictional tale for those of us who wonder where we went wrong.

Long long ago, in a not so distant province, it was decreed that the people need a nice new rapid rail system. This lovely public transport system was to be completed before a big sporting event, which is not allowed to be named without paying royalties to some Swiss dude. Just so the country can show the world that they can get to the airport on a narrow seat.

This railroad was nicknamed the Shilowa Express, because all glory must go to him that is in charge. Alas, soon the open-ended budget started climbing, deadlines came and went, and it was realised that Hades will freeze over before this project can be completed on time, never mind in budget. So the nickname died a silent death, to be replaced by it's current horrible moniker, the Gautrain , a name which no tourist whizzing to Sandton from the airport can pronounce.

Tenders were asked for to build this shining beacon, and soon every newly created company with the right credentials and no experience  were scurrying up and down to find a actual company that can do real work. Let's look at one possible scenario, for the sake of the story. 

Let's say PEE enterprises wanted to tender for the supply of crushed gravel to fill the tracks with. PEE already had the right contacts, and was guaranteed to get the tender. So PEE approached Piet's Transport CC with an offer Piet could not refuse. "I need 100,000 tonnes of gravel, name your price. And fill in this pesky tender document with my name on while you are at it"

So Piet sourced his gravel at R1000 a tonne ( a random number), added R500 for his effort, and produced said tender document. PEE duly  added another R1000 per tonne to the price, handed it to his bud, and voila!

Quick and easy R100 million is made for PEE, and he doesn't even have an office. Neither does he have to deliver anything, Piet will take care of it.

Everyone is happy.  

Except me and you, whose taxes are actually paying for this, and who must now pay more for the privilege of riding on this train, with the narrow seats. 

Of which the project is still not finished.

Now take this story and apply it to every single portion of this massive project and you will realise why it costs R7 billion, no, R15 billion,  sorry, is that R20 billion? 

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