Stern stance relaxed on charade

OPEN letter to the Hon Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan, regarding NMBM infrastructure funding: Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS).

Dear Minister Gordhan, I write this ahead of your visit to the NMBM this week and trust you will have an opportunity to consider these points of view before any further discussion with NMBM officials.

Re my earlier letter (December 3 2013), I thank you for your written and verbal acknowledgements.

But I do wish to say it is disappointing that further interaction regarding my points of view have not taken place and that a substantial grant has again been given to NMBM, which everyone knows cannot be gainfully spent before the end of June.

In doing this, you relaxed some of your own stringent conditions for a roll-over as reported in the press last year, including your demand for action on forensic reports and appointment of permanent department heads by a deadline that was not adhered to.

Your relaxation for NMBM is in contrast with the stern stance you took with Buffalo City, as reported in the East London press, Daily Dispatch some weeks ago (“Flush out the criminals or lose your R700m grant”).

As justification for relaxing your own stringent conditions, it has been explained to me that even though service providers are blocking the new system, the Treasury and Department of Transport position is that when they do come around, the infrastructure will be in place, so continued spending is justified.

My main argument which everyone tries to avoid is that the system is untested and the architecture is wrong. While the system is still not running the shortcomings are masked.

And I allege the people who should be controlling the decisions are struggling with how and what should be done.

No-one has their arms around the entire system. It is out of control.

So they scratch a little bit here and a little bit there, including quick wins and non-IPTS expenditures, with the main objective just to hurriedly spend the money while it’s there. The pilot programme was a total scam from the start. Many people could see that, but planners were allowed to play out the charade.

Now they are preparing the next contract, which can achieve nothing more than the first, if the main log jam of taxi resistance is not first overcome.

The negotiation that is taking place is among a small group and rumours are that under-the-table payments have/are being made to buy their cooperation.

Therefore I repeat my demand that expenditure should stop and a high-level judicial inquiry should be instituted into the entire failed system.

Of the many pages I have written and documents that can be quoted, the most applicable as of today is a local press article on April 8 quoting the IPTS project manager Adv Tshamase, which indicates just what I mean. He is overlooking some aspects of a BRT programme and certain past decisions.

As a legal officer he cannot be expected to make the technical decisions required of the person in his position, unless he has the support he needs from below, but that support appears not to be available.

I reiterate my demands to yourself to not provide further money but urge that the failure and non-running of the system be investigated by an independent judicial inquiry instead.

Pierre Joubert, North End, Port Elizabeth

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