Investigators reportedly closing in on Nelson Mandela Bay IPTS corruption

JUNE 29, 2015

Investigations are reportedly wrapping up in the Metro's infamous Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) scandal. The National Treasury and auditing firm, Deloitte, are believed to be gathering up evidence for a strong case against several prominent officials and politicians in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality, who are believed to have benefited unduly by milking the stagnant bus system. 

Insiders claim that laptops and cellphones belonging to several top officials in various departments of the municipality were recently taken by investigators.

The Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality acquired 60 buses in 2009 for R100 million as part of its Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS). Six years on, the buses are gathering dust outside a fresh produce market in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth.

Ever since its initiation, the project has been plagued by problems while allegations of massive corruption have refused to go away.

The only time the buses were seen on the roads was during the 2010 soccer World Cup when the project was being piloted.

In April, members of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP), who were on an oversight visit to the Metro, were shocked to find that the buses were still not back on the road and demanded that city bosses, the provincial Department of Transport and all project managers be summoned to Parliament to explain the mess.

Litho Suka, Chairperson of the Select Committee on Economic Development and Small Business, then said the matter of the unused buses was “a crisis” and needed an urgent solution.

“This crisis cannot continue unabated. The buses have not been used since 2010. Public transportation is central to accessing economic opportunities for the people. These buses cost the government a lot of money and should be connecting people to the economic centres,” he said.

But the Metro said that it was reviewing the project’s business plan after its midterm budget and performance report showed that Metro overspent on the IPTS by R216 million in the 2013/14 financial year. The report said the overexpenditure constituted irregular expenditure.

“The unauthorised expenditure on this project has resulted in a decline in the municipality’s cash position and has placed the funding status of the 2014/15 budget at risk,” read the report, which was presented to council in January this year.

In the same month, the Nelson Mandela Bay Ratepayers Association (NMBRA) and Afriforum PE threatened to sue Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality senior officials over alleged corruption in the roll out of the IPTS.

Kobus Gerber, NMBRA Chairperson, alleged that the IPTS had become a cashcow for the corrupt officials and businessmen.

He said that, as a result, the NMBRA and AfriForum PE have served a report on the corruption relating to the NMBM IPTS to six organs in Government. 

“The NMBRA and AfriForum PE are now trying to stop all IPTS grant payments from National to NMBM but until that happens there is no other way forward to stop the IPTS rot from continuing but to now sue all officials including the CM, CFO, Head IPTS and SCM in order to  recover the hundreds of millions wasted by them.

“We have previously warned the CM and CFO to stop all appointments via a deviation process which is against Section 217 of the Constitution of South Africa relating to a fair procurement process," Gerber said then.

The IPTS also faces a funding deficit of R2.9 billion between the 2014/15 and 2017/18 financial years, according that was submitted to the Infrastructure, Engineering and Energy Committee in August last year.

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