Appeals in tender row

2013-11-28 00:00

TWO waste companies have lodged appeals with Finance MEC Ina Cronjé after the Provincial Treasury’s bid adjudication tribunal reversed the decision to award a R57 million medical waste tender to their rival.

The lid on the appeal was lifted after the Health Department suspended — with pay — its chief finance officer Mashaka Ravhura and supply chain manager Andile Zondo on Tuesday.

The department has claimed Ravhura and Zondo were suspended on allegations of serious misconduct.

Their suspensions come as the Competition Commission and Public Protector launched probes into the handling of the multi-million medical waste tender and the alleged anti-competitive behaviour of one of the waste companies.

Neither the Health Department nor the Provincial Treasury responded yesterday to questions sent.

The tender, advertised in March, was only granted by the Health Department to three companies after the province was divided into four regions, after another issued in 2011 was terminated without explanation last year.

In the tender published in the Government Gazette in June, Ecocyle Waste Solution was to supply waste management to two regions — eThekwini and Ilembe districts as well as Ugu, Sisonke and uMgun­gundlovu.

Buhle Waste Solution won the tender to supply to the region consisting of Umkhanyakude, Uthungulu and Zululand districts, while Compass Waste Service won the contract for the region comprising Amajuba, Umzinyathi and Uthukela.

However, the Provincial Treasury’s bid adjudication tribunal reversed the winning tenders of Ecocyle and Buhle in favour of Compass, which had been providing the service to the department’s health facilities for almost a decade in October.

It had ruled that Compass’s bid was considerably cheaper than its competitors and that tender processes were not followed because the pricing for the tender was calculated improperly.

The tribunal also ruled that Ecocycle had no experience in the medical waste industry, among other things.

But, Ecocyle’s managing director Sifiso Khuzwayo lodged an appeal to Cronjé, complaining about fairness in the handling of the appeal, after he made a similar complaint to Premier Senzo Mchunu and raised issues about anti-competitive behaviour.

Khuzwayo said the tribunal afforded Compass’s attorneys two-and-a-half hours to make oral presentations, while denying the others a similar opportunity. Instead they were told to make written submissions pending continuation of the hearing.

“Unfortunately this was not the case and the appeal was finalised without us getting an opportunity to be heard,” he said.

He complained that while waiting for the continuation of the tribunal’s hearing, Compass continued rendering the service.

Vantage Waste Management, a company that also bid for the tender, has also written to Treasury head Simiso Magagula urging that the bid process be started afresh.

“Our view is that the bid should be cancelled forthwith and commence a new bidding process to allow for further competitive bids and correction of wrong.” Mphatswe wrote.

Mchunu’s spokesperson, Ndabezinhle Sibiya, said the premier would comment on the matter once he received a report from the Health Department.

Magagula replied in a text message that he was in a meeting, and Cronjé did not respond.

No comment was obtained from Compass. A woman who answered The Witness calls said managing director Ian Durandt was in a meeting and would return the calls, but he had not done so by the time of going to press.

Commission confirms probe

THE Competition Commission has confirmed they are investigating a complaint by a KZN waste company over the alleged anti-competitive behaviour by a rival Durban company.

Ecocyle Waste Solutions lodged a complaint in September against Compass Waste Services after the awarding of medical waste tender by the KZN Health Department.

“The commission can confirm that it has received a complaint from Ecocycle Waste Solution against Compass Waste Services alleging anti-competitive conduct,” it said in a statement.

“The commission is currently investigating and cannot discuss the merits of the case at the moment.”

Compass has not replied to efforts to get comment.

The Witness understands that the commission is scheduled to meet with the KZN department next week.

In a complaint to the commission, Ecocyle managing director Sifiso Khuzwayo said there was dominance by a few players in the medical waste industry.

He accused Compass of providing self-renewing contracts to the Health Department’s clinics and hospitals, and several private hospitals and laboratories, among other facilities.

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