Questions raised over China deal

Khangale Makhado

Khangale Makhado

More than R40million from the Department of Roads and Transport in Limpopo is suspected to have gone down the drain after the acquisition of "fong kong" graders from China in April.

Sources told Sowetan the graders were bought through a dodgy tender process and have been lying idle since their delivery.

The graders were distributed to Limpopo's five regions to improve the state of the roads in the province.

The sources claimed that some of the graders were not in a working condition when they were delivered.

Repairing them would also take some time because spares have to be ordered from China, said the sources.

It is understood that roads and transport MEC Justice Piitso has demanded clarity from department head Mabel Makibelo about the process that led to the purchase of the graders.

A fortnight ago Sowetan forwarded questions to the department relating to the acquisition of the graders. The questions included: who would carry the costs relating to the repair of the graders, would it be the supplier - who has been paid in full - or the taxpayer? The newspaper also wanted to know who had authorised the tender award as well as the payment, which, according to a reliable source, was paid upfront.

Piitso yesterday said his department was dealing with "pertinent questions emanating from the fact that the said graders were purchased and have not been put to use".

He said the matter was receiving attention by the relevant line managers who engage in the procurement processes.

MEC Piitso's spokesman Boiki Tsedu said: "Once this process is finalised, something that should happen in a reasonably short space of time, a report shall be made available to the public to confirm that the operations of the department are above board.

"We wish to place it on record that, informed by the need to deal with backlogs in so far as road construction and maintenance in the province is concerned, there was a need for the MEC to establish the facts around the purchasing and usage of the said graders."