Eskom denies ‘narrow and inequitable’ tender distribution

Johannesburg - Eskom in KwaZulu-Natal has been accused of failing to distribute its electrification and reticulation tenders equitably among the hundreds of service providers in its database. Instead, it awards most to a handful of companies.

According to documents in possession of City Press, the majority on the long list of bidders were unsuccessful. A trend of the same companies being used flies in the face of Eskom’s own tender procurement policy, which is available on the power utility’s website.

Eskom’s supply chain management policy states: “The contract manager ... must ensure that the awarding of task orders is done in a manner which is fair, equitable, competitive, transparent, and cost-effective.”

Out of a total of 333 contractors who vied for electrification projects, only a few were used.

The same was the case with the reticulation contracts, for which 277 contractors applied. Some of those used for reticulation were also employed for electrification projects.

At least one company got six contracts totalling R31.8m. A few more bagged multiyear contracts ranging from R1.1m to R7 m.

Eskom denied that there was anything untoward about its distribution of the tenders.

Spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said the rest of the contractors were being “developed”.

“A total of 333 contractors tendered for electrification work. When the initial evaluation and contracting were concluded, only six met all the requirements and were ready to do the work as from April 1, when the contract became effective.

“Through Eskom’s contractor development programme, the number grew to 148 in the past six months, which is the current number of contractors with signed contracts and which are on the panel.

“Work has been assigned to 81 contractors.

“The KwaZulu-Natal operating unit is working on helping the balance of 67 contractors that still have to meet legislative and other requirements.

“In addition to this, the remainder of the 185 contractors [333 minus the 148] are still being developed.

“Business needs will determine the number of contractors that can do work at any given time,” Phasiwe said.

The power utility said that out of the 277 contractors who tendered for reticulation work, only 11 met all the requirements and qualified to start work from April 1.

Phasiwe said that with the help of Eskom’s contractor support and development programme the number grew to 32 in the past six months.

Work had already been assigned to 19 of them.

Eskom’s KwaZulu-Natal office previously made headlines after it increased the value of two contracts worth R64.2m by R13.2m, against its own professional advice.

The move subsequently led to the office assigning investigators to determine who leaked the information to this newspaper. The source was not found.

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