THREE years, a lengthy court battle and millions of rands later, Metro Security will this month finally be awarded the lucrative contract to secure the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
Acting municipal manager Themba Hani yesterday told councillors at a municipal public accounts committee meeting that he was writing to all the other companies who bid for the R90-million tender to give Metro Security the space to carry out the security services.
It comes after the Port Elizabeth High Court last month dismissed rival bidder Nationwide Security’s application for leave to appeal a previous court ruling ordering the municipality to finalise the tender.
Nationwide Security is one of the companies that currently has the contract to provide security services for the municipality. The other company is Umsimbithi Security Services.
Both companies are being paid R700000 a month more than what Metro Security would have been paid had they been given the tender in the first place – as originally decided.
Ratepayers have forked out R21-million extra for the past 30 months. The city also had to pay about R800000 for Metro Security’s legal costs, as well as additional money for the municipality’s lawyers.
Metro Security was awarded the contract in January 2010, but it was later recalled. The municipality retracted the letter of acceptance and referred the tender back to the bid adjudication committee to be reviewed and re-advertised.
This came after suspended Sithembele Vatala, then acting municipal manager, and head of the adjudication committee, questioned the accuracy of the minutes of the bid adjudication committee meeting which recommended that Metro Security be awarded the tender.
Metro Security then fought back, taking the municipality to court.
Hani – who was responding to questions raised by ANC councillor Lawrence Troon – said yesterday that Metro Security would be "afforded the opportunity to carry out the services”.
"I am having a meeting with the relevant stakeholders [yesterday] to iron things out. I’ve also signed a letter informing all the companies who tendered to respect the court ruling and give the preferred bidder a chance,” Hani said.
Troon wanted to know why Nationwide and Umsimbithi were still providing security services for the municipality after the court ruled in Metro Security’s favour.
Troon said: "There are people who are trying to milk this thing and keep a company here illegally. How can officials disregard the law and nothing’s been done about it?
"How can we simply ignore a court order?”
DA councillor Leon de Villiers wanted to know who was responsible for the tender bungle and said the officials had to be brought to book.
Metro Services director Kaashief Niekerk said he was not privy to this development yet. "Nobody from the municipality has contacted me yet, so I won’t be able to comment at this stage.
"I have, however, heard from people who were at the . . . meeting about what the [acting] municipal manager said,” Niekerk said.
The municipality has until August 20 to award the tender, according to the high court ruling.