- Movesa sole supplier of number plates embossing equipment
- Movesa/Fischer supplies Maltis
- Movesa’s Auto Tech sole COF garage
The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services’ (DRTSS) decision to award one company three different services has crystallized voices of discontent from interested firms which they say is contributing to inefficiency at the DRTSS.
The firms also say awarding Movesa—which is in a consortium with Fischer Consultant, the provider of the Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis) platform—creates conflict of interest in its operations.
Amidst protests from firms that applied for the awarding of contracts to supply new number plates in 2012, the directorate awarded Movesa, as a sole supplier of the new number plates and its embossing equipment to the anger of competitors one of which sued for US$8,480 plus other damages.
As if that was not enough, when the DRTSS introduced the new Maltis in 2015, Movesa again came out as a partner to Fischer Consultants of South Africa, as the platform service providers of Maltis.
A statement from the DRTSS released last week, just confirmed that in June 2016 it licenced Auto Tech Automobile of Lilongwe, a subsidiary of Movesa, as the first vehicle inspection service provider for Certificate of Fitness (COF).
Our investigations, through paper trail we have seen, and in an interview we have conducted with Auto Tech, have confirmed the business relationship between Movesa, Auto Tech and Fischer Consultant of South Africa and that Auto Tech obtained the COF business as Movesa, to meet the requirement of two years’ experience as demanded by the Road Traffic Act, before Movesa registered Auto Tech in January 2016 to take over the vehicle inspection business.
Auto Tech managing director Mohsin Salim confirmed in an interview on Wednesday when we asked him how his company vied for a licence whose requirements it did not meet: “We were running a garage under a different name. Movesa has been in the trade since 1995 and we have been providing the best services for our customers. So, Auto Tech is just another branch of Movesa.”
A classified document on Maltis upgrade number P303/PMAD/Doc.010 dated October 20, 2015 we have seen was prepared by Movesa and Fisher Consulting of P.O. Box 35423, Menlo Park, 0102.
This monopolisation of business has attracted a barrage of criticism from other interested players in the industry against DRTSS through minutes of a stakeholders meeting held at the Ministry of Transport headquarters in Lilongwe on March 8, 2016 we have seen.
In the minutes, garage owners voiced out their displeasure at having Auto Tech through its parent company Movesa dominate vehicle inspection services at DRTSS as creating a conflict of interest.
But when contacted for comment Salim refused to take the blame as being behind the monopoly of business, pushing the issue back to DRTSS.
“With regard to conflict of interest, we as an applicant we applied (for a licence) and various government departments which are involved were at that meeting. They are the ones who will solve this issue. So you better talk to the DRTSS on how this issue will be solved,” he said.
The contention in the way DRTSS has been awarding business contracts has been compounded by unending complaints over poor quality of service delivery that is said to have been heightened by the newly-introduced interface system (Maltis).
Minutes of the meeting said in part: “Stakeholders at the meeting thought there was a conflict of interest on the part of Auto Tech, which is also operated by Movesa. This is the only company that imports number plates and is also in a consortium with Fischer who is upgrading the Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis). They [stakeholders] further feared that Auto Tech would deliberately sabotage their connectivity to Maltis so as to have enhance (their) competition over the rest.”
As a result, during the same meeting, DRTSS committed to distribute all relevant documents to all those who expressed interest, inspect all garages and to provide all the garages with preliminary reports clearly outlining issues to be attended to before qualifying for a vehicle inspection licence.
Last week Tuesday Minister of Transport Malison Ndau was quoted in the press as having written President Peter Mutharika for his intervention after revelations that one service provider was earning more money than government in the current arrangement.
Treasury spokesperson Nations Msowoya said on Thursday, government was getting K3 000 out of each COF done at Auto Tech while the garage was getting K10 000 as return for its investment in equipment, among other things.
In a response to our questionnaire from DRTSS director Jacques Manong’a on Tuesday last week confirmed that the directorate only licenced Auto Tech out of 28 applicants that made the final list out of 58 that initially applied.
Said Manong’a: “At present, the Directorate has licenced one vehicle inspection station in Lilongwe, Autotech Automobile, which started its operations in June 2016. Another applicant that is showing promising results is Motor Services Centre also situated in Lilongwe. Motor Services Centre is currently finalising the process of interfacing its station with Maltis and will soon be licenced to start operations as a vehicle inspection station.”
The bidding process has been fully littered with protests from stakeholders from the outset.
This attracted the interest the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) in the matter. Following the complaints from stakeholders, ACB in November 2015, obtained a stop order through the Lilongwe Magistrate’s court stopping the DRTSS from awarding the contract.
During the stakeholders meeting, director of ACB Lucas Kondowe said his organisation would ensure that there was a level playing field before lifting the stop order.
But when we inquired further from the bureau on the progress on the issue, ACB senior public relations officer Egrita Ndala, said the bureau could not provide and update because the officer who was handling the matter was on leave.
On its part, CFTC director of Consumer Welfare, Lewis Kulisewa, acknowledged in an emailed response to have been asked by DRTSS to provide an opinion on the allegation about monopoly. He said his commission provided its opinion to DRTSS which was in a better position to explain.
Movesa was first embroidered in controversy in 2012 when it came out as sole supplier of new number plates and its embossing equipment which attracted protests from its competitors including Bull Dog Spares which sued for US$8 480 after its certificate was prematurely withdrawn.
At the height of accusations against Movesa’s dominance in the number plate deal, our sister paper The Nation of September 29, 2012 reported that Manong’a defended the company saying it had been supplying number plates since 1999.
Both the Road Transport Operators Association (RTOA) and the Minibus Owners Association of Malawi (Moam) then questioned the deals at DRTSS.