Bhisho can’t account for R55m spent on scholar transport system

MEC for Transport Weziwe Tikana
MEC for Transport Weziwe Tikana
Image: DD/File Pic

Bhisho’s transport department has failed to account for more than  R55m spent on the scholar transport system in the Eastern Cape.

This has led to calls from the roads and transport oversight committee for a probe into how the money was spent.

A report on the department’s performance in the 2018/2019 financial year, along with recommendations from the committee, signed by transport committee chair Xolani Malamlela, indicates that it did not provide adequate documentation.

“The department failed to account for R55.5m for scholar transport as there were inadequate supporting documents to substantiate the expenses incurred for scholar transport,” Malamlela said in the report, tabled in the legislature last week.

“The department has still not yet developed an automated system for scholar transport which will make it easier to monitor service providers, despite having a budget set aside for this purpose.”

The committee recommended: “The department must provide the committee with a detailed report on the investigation undertaken [on the R55m unaccounted for] and disciplinary steps taken against those responsible.”

It also recommended that the roads and transport department urgently develop an automated system to help with the monitoring of scholar transport information.

The department, which received a qualified audit opinion in the last financial year, has incurred irregular expenditure to the tune of R264m over a number of years.

The committee took issue with the fact that no evidence was provided that there was an investigation into the irregular expenditure, nor was there proof of consequence management.

Roads and transport MEC Weziwe Tikana acknowledged the recommendations in the report, saying the department was working on it.

“I wish to reassure this house that we are already at work to close some of the gaps identified as we analysed our performance for the 2018/2019 financial year.

“We are ready and poised to self-correct and put systems in place for the promotion of good governance which we are convinced will lead to an improved audit opinion,” Tikana said in her response to the report.

Meanwhile, on other findings for the current financial year — for the period April to September 2019 — the committee raised concerns about the turnaround time taken to service and repair government vehicles, particularly emergency vehicles.

This led to a shortage of vehicles to respond to emergency call-outs from citizens.

Malamlela wrote: “This affects negatively service rendered by emergency vehicles because most communities rely solely on state resources such as Emergency Medical Services.

“Government vehicles are not all fitted with tracking systems and this means they are put to any kind of misuse and abuse.”

The committee recommended a special dispensation for all emergency vehicles to avoid delays, and it said the department must fast-track the process of installing tracker systems in all government fleets to minimise misuse and abuse.