The Competition and Fair Trading Commission has weighed in on the controversy that has embroiled the Department of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) over granting of a licence to a private firm [name withheld] to be issuing Certificate of Fitness (COF) to motor vehicles, to avoid promoting unfair trade practices.
CFTC’s involvement in the matter comes hot on the heels of the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB)’s decision last year restraining DRTSS from awarding a licence to the firm as it carried its investigations.
CFTC director of consumer welfare and education, Lewis Kulisewa, in an e-mail response confirmed the commission was now involved in the matter after being engaged by other relevant departments.
However, Kulisewa said DRTSS was better placed to provide information on the matter.
“The Competition and Fair Trading Commission has not instituted any investigation into the matter you have cited. The commission was engaged by the relevant department [DRTSS] as a stakeholder. The relevant department may be the appropriate authority to share information on the current status of the issue,” said Kulisewa.
According to another source at CFTC, the main ground for the commission to be involved in the matter were the fears that the firm would be allowed to operate both as a garage and as COF provider, something that could disadvantage other garages.
According to sources at DRTSS, CFTC’s involvement follows disagreements within the department over how the tender process for awarding licences to companies to inspect vehicles’ fitness was done, and both the ACB and the commission had been dragged into the matter.
ACB senior public relations officer Egritta Ndala this week said she was yet to be briefed on the matter whereas director Lucas Kondowe, who is said to have been involved in the discussions, could not be reached on several attempts.
But DRTSS spokesperson Chisomo Chibwana confirmed the involvement of CFTC and ACB into the matter, but insisted the department did not break any law.
Chibwana said ACB cleared the department of any suspicion of irregularities.
“We asked for expression of interest. Over 30 expressed serious interest and we picked 15, when we embarked on inspecting the companies we were issued with a restriction order from ACB on issues to do with conflict of interest which also tackled the issue of the company you are mentioning.
In between March and April, ACB recommended a stakeholders meeting to hear all grievances on the matter and ACB took on board all the views and advised that we should be checking on progresses on specific recommendations. ACB indicated its satisfaction and removed the restriction order,” claimed Chibwana. n