As local players are crying foul over charges from a consultant manning an upgraded Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis) from South Africa, government has written the consultant expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of the system, according to documents we have seen.
The consultant—Fischer and Movesa Consulting—is charging local players which DTRSS licenced to operate vehicle inspection services (VIS) for them to be connected to the database.
The arrangement is raising questions on ownership of the system and has irked some players who are now wary of government’s sloppiness to take full control of the system.
VIS are private outlets, which Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) licensed to process and issue certificate of fitness (COF) for vehicles.
In a letter dated December 3 2018 from Ministry of Transport and Public Works Ref, No RT/CONF/A50 titled “Complaint on the performance of Maltis and other related issues” addressed to Fischer and Movesa Consulting states that the performance of Maltis is not satisfactory.
DRTSS director Fergus Gondwe signed the letter in which he instructs the consultant to commence a process to hand over the system to the Government of Malawi by early January 2019.
“You will recall that I wrote you on the current Maltis performance and the corresponding deteriorating levels of service on several processes. I also wrote you on the need to hand over management of fortigate firewall and followed up with several reminders but no acknowledgement of receipt or response has come from yourselves,” reads the letter in part.
Among the issues DTRSS is concerned about is the system’s delay to show payments.
“Similarly, failure of face value documents to print which requires processing of duplicates and avoiding payment of duplicates fees has reached a very bad state,” says the four page letter.
But ministry and DTRSS officials have differed on the practice by the consultant to be charging VIS operators with Capital Hill describing the charges as ‘dishonest’ while DRTSS says they are for other services.
Spokesperson for Ministry of Transport and Public Works James Chakwera indicated in an interview that operators are expected to pay a fee of K50 000 to DRTSS after being certified, and nothing more.
Said Chakwera: “Once DRTSS has certified and issued a licence, the next thing is to get the centre connected, and for that connection, there isn’t any charge.”
But Gondwe indicated that the directorate is aware of the charges which he said are for services rendered to VISs.
One of the VIS owners in Lilongwe Mike Antonie who operates under Nu-Tread Company explained in an interview that after spending 8 000 euros (about K8 million) buying a computerised system that was to be connected to Maltis in December 2016, he was kept waiting for six months only to be told later that the gadgets were obsolete.
The consultant later offered Nu-Tread a loan of R60 691.69 (about K3 million) and supplied another set of gadgets to keep the station up and running, said Antonie. He was asked to make the payment in two installments.
According to Antonie, a month later, his company was disconnected from the Maltis system for three days after he failed to settle the whole loan.
“My question now is: who owns Maltis?” queried Antonie.
Another entrepreneur who spent over K100 million to set up a new VIS has been waiting to be connected to the Maltis for four months despite fulfilling all requirements including being issued with a licence.
In a whatsapp response Girret Fischer who is the owner of Fischer Consulting said their contract introduces an obligation of confidentiality and, therefore, it is not appropriate to provide detailed responses surrounding the deal.
Said Fischer: “Regarding the allegations by private VISs, there is no provision in our contract to provide system implementation at any VIS.”
Fischer did not respond to our inquiry on what he makes ofthe letter.