No penalties for Tasima

Kimberly Guest
By Kimberly Guest, ITWeb contributor
Johannesburg, 12 Jun 2007

The consortium behind the widely-criticised implementation of the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) will not be subjected to penalties, says transport minister Jeff Radebe.

The minister was responding to questions posed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Parliament last month.

The Masiye Phambili consortium was awarded the five-year contract to implement eNatis in 2002. The consortium - made up of arivia.kom, Webcom Consulting and Thuthukani Information Technology Services - subsequently formed Tasima, a privately-owned company. The contract expired at the end of May, but was extended for a period of no longer than 12 months.

Since April, the eNatis implementation has appeared in daily newspapers and drawn fire from political parties, the public sector and outraged citizens.

However, the transport department says the critical milestone dates set out in the original contract were influenced by a number of factors and as a result it has chosen not to impose penalties.

Several delays

The department notes that an unsuccessful application to the High Court to have the awarding of the contract overturned delayed the project for six months.

Additionally, as the implementation got under way, the milestone dates had to be revised to make way for extra functionalities to be incorporated in the software development baseline, increased number of sites, additional workstations and printers, and "unavoidable delays and requirements by the national steering committee to prepare the business environment for the changeover to eNatis".

"All these factors were considered by the national steering committee and the schedule of critical milestones was adjusted from time to time to reflect the realities as outlined. The changeover to the new eNatis system was concluded within the amended dates. Therefore, in respect of the changeover date, no penalties were applicable," it says.

DA concerned

DA transport spokesman Stuart Farrow says he is concerned at the department's response.

"There seems to be a veil of protection thrown around this contract and its contractor, for whatever reason. It is understandable that unforeseen circumstances may arise causing slight delays in the contract; but, in this regard, it seems that many of these factors could have been foreseen and taken into account from the beginning. Why did the department accept such significant delays in a more than R400 million contract without so much as a discount on the original cost?" he asks.

Unsatisfied with the response from the Department of Transport, Farrow says he is repeating his call that Radebe appear before Parliament's Standing Committee on Public Accounts.

However, transport spokesperson Collen Msibi says this is unnecessary as the system is operating satisfactorily and the department is in discussions with the auditor general to facilitate the development of its final report.

"We would like to reiterate that the system is working and its problems have been resolved. We see no reason why Tasima should be penalised if this is the case," he says.