Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) is investigating suspected corruption and fraud at the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) in connection with outsourcing of vehicle inspection services to private garages.
About 25 companies were identified for the inspection services in the Northern, Southern and Central regions after a tendering process.
But ACB says it is investigating reports that officers from DRTSS received kickbacks from some private garages to issue them tenders to operate vehicle inspection services on behalf of the directorate.
Outsourcing the component of vehicle inspection has been a reform programme of the department under the ongoing Public Service Reform Programme (PSRP) which Vice President Saulos Chilima heads.
Recently, the Lilongwe Magistrate’s Court extended to three months an earlier restriction order that ACB obtained in November last year against the outsourcing deals.
An affidavit in support of the restriction notice sourced from the court signed by ACB investigator Kondwani Zulu states that investigations into the alleged malpractices at the department were instituted on November 15 2015.
The ACB immediately stopped the department and parent ministry, Transport and Public Works, from entering into contract with any private company or issue a licence to a company or its agent without written consent from the director of ACB.
“That the investigation is now at an advanced stage and is likely to be concluded within three months. That the Anti-Corruption Bureau is seeking a renewal of the restriction notice with the fundamental aim of preserving evidence which otherwise might be disposed of and will be useful during prosecution,” the affidavit reads.
A court order dated February 11 2016 signed by senior resident magistrate Anthony Kapaswiche states that DRTSS should not carry out the process for the next three months as ACB concludes its investigations.
“Upon hearing counsel for the [ACB] and upon reading the affidavit in support of the application, it is ordered that the restriction notice issued by the Director of [ACB] on the 13th day of November 2015 be renewed from the day [it] expired and to a further period of three months from the date hereof,” the order reads.
DRTSS director Jacques Manong’a confirmed the development in an interview on Tuesday.
But he insisted that ACB had merely stopped the department from issuing contracts and licences to private garages and the process was still going ahead.
Manong’a claimed that ACB was investigating the process as it routinely does when there is change of ownership of vehicles.
“The only thing is when everything is concluded and the director has to issue licences, but now there is an extra stage that once the director certifies a company, we will need to seek consent from the director of ACB,” Manong’a said.
DRTSS has in the past said the outsourcing of vehicle inspection services was meant to reduce congestion at its inspection pits because there are only 24 motor examiners countrywide. n