Swaziland
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NAPSAWU WANTS ANSWERS ON CTA, WORKERS

MANZINI – The National Public Service and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) needs answers.

NAPSAWU President Oscar Nkambule said the national executive committee (NEC) of his organisation had written to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, seeking answers on the viability of the Central Transport Administration (CTA). Nkambule said this followed that government advertised on national newspapers, seeking companies to express interest for government fleet leasing and financing. The Chief Ndlaluhlaza Ndwandwe-led ministry stated that it intended to engage a firm for the provision of government fleet lease financing for a period ranging between three and five years.

The key requirements for the firms to be considered were said to include relevant qualification of staff proposed for the project and demonstrable experience. It was also stated that the firm must demonstrate its capacity in fleet lease and financing. He said the actions on the ground and what government had informed them were not at par. Nkambule said it had been communicated to them that the work of the CTA had been restored. “The question that we now need an answer to is: What will the mechanics do if government wants a company that will lease and finance its fleet? The cars will have a motor plan, which means the mechanics will have nothing to do,” he said. It is worth noting that the CTA is a department under the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, which its core functions include to purchase, maintain and dispose of government vehicles and other related equipment; as well as to provide fuel for government vehicles. It also rents vehicles for government ministries and departments. This department has five workshop facilities spread across the country and they are located in Mbabane, Matsapha, Nhlangano, Pigg’s Peak and Siteki.

Provision

For the efficiency of the government machinery through provision of transport, the CTA has, to date, been responsible for a fleet of about 3 000 vehicles, ranging from motor cycles, sedans, LDVs, trucks, tractors to heavy specialised construction motorised equipment.  However, in 2020, its trading account was suspended after the CTA was marred by corruption-related scandals, which include the theft of fuel valued at over E10 million, stealing of automobile parts and failure to fix the government fleet. In light of the call for expression of interest for government fleet leasing and financing, sources informed this publication that it had been established that it was more viable to lease the fleet. The sources said this would absolve government of having to maintain the fleet. The sources said this would soon be the responsibility of the firm, which shall win the tender.

It was gathered that government intended that the firm which shall win the tender would also provide a fleet management service. This was said to be means of closing the leaks in the bulging expenditure in terms of maintenance and also having the fleet being abused by some personnel. On the other hand, while the union representing some of the civil servants deployed at CTA sees a bleak future for their employees, Principal Secretary (PS) in the ministry, Thulani Mkhaliphi said: “CTA is a government department responsible for government transport services and this department will continue to provide these services to government for as long as government requires transport to execute its functions.”

He said this when sought for comment on what would be the role of CTA given the new direction that government was in pursuit of, regarding the procurement of its fleet. The PS’s response is in-line with a memorandum he shared with the secretary to Cabinet, all PSs and all heads of department, regarding the operations of the CTA. The memorandum which was issued on December 30, 2022, is titled ‘Circular No. 1 of 2023/24 on Central Transport Administration (CTA) operations. It communicated reforms in the management and process workflows between ministries and the CTA.

Mkhaliphi in the communication said in the quest to achieving efficiencies in the administration of government transport services, controlling officers were required to note that fueling of government vehicles would continue to happen at the respective CTA depots and accredited dedicated fuel tanks for those ministries with such special need. He said ministries would be allocated annual fuel litres, (both diesel and petrol), with pre-set monthly ceilings. The PS said in cases where ministries anticipated additional fuel consumption in a particular month on account of special assignment or projects, controlling officers were advised to make prior requests to draw additional fuel for that month but within the annual allocated fuel budget.

Issuance

Mkhaliphi further pleaded with controlling officers to designate officers at appropriate level for issuance of coupons to draw fuel. The officers, he said, would be the official designated fuel system managers with user password given by his ministry and not to be transferable without authorisation. The PS said no vehicle would be allowed to draw fuel without a properly issued coupon and complete filled out log book. “Fuel will be procured by the Central Transport Administration and sold to ministries at the going market government pump price. Ministries will be provided with system view rights on their respective fuel draw down and actual budget balances to ensure that they track their fuel litres consumption and actual cost per month, per vehicle and operational unit,” the PS said.

Furthermore, Mkhaliphi said controlling officers were advised that the new Public Finance Management Act did not allow the regular use of journal voucher's (JV) as it was done in the current payment of vehicle repairs and maintenance system CTA. He said this arrangement would, therefore, be terminated. Mkhaliphi said ministries' CTA budget (00261) shall be released to the CTA (Head 53) to expend. The PS said the CTA shall at each quarter prepare detailed expenditure report on vehicles service maintenance and repairs for ministries to review and track their respective expenditure. The PS said vehicles requiring service, repairs and maintenance shall be presented to the nearest CTA depot for inspection, diagnosis and a job card would be raised. He said ministries would be advised on the cost of the required parts replacement and/or service before works execution.