The provincial standing committee on finance and economic development has strongly questioned the BEE structuring of the company that won the bid to turn public transport into a cashless and safer system ahead of the 2010 World Cup.

The standing committee on Wednesday called in the head of the provincial department of transport, Thami Manyathi, to explain the decision-making process. It was left “unduly dissatisfied”.

The tender was awarded to Traffic Management Technologies, an international company with a 51 percent BEE component and the other 49 percent locked into three private trusts. The company’s 51 percent BEE shareholder for the ticketing deal is Matemeku Investments, headed by BEE magnate Moss Mashishi.

Standing committee chairperson Garth Strachan said the committee was concerned about the criteria used to evaluate the BEE component in awarding the tender: “Based on what you said, only issues of equity holding were taken into account; while staffing, gender and race issues were not considered.”

Manyathi told the standing committee that the evaluation committee had looked at the company’s equity holding in awarding the tender for the proposed “smart card” fare system. The project is expected to cost the province about R200-million and aims to turn public transport into a cashless, safer and seamless system ahead of 2010. The card would be used to pay fares on buses, trains and taxis.

Strachan told the meeting that, based on the information that Manyathi had supplied, Matemeku was represented by three non-executive directors – which meant the winning company was wholly white-owned.

“This comes close to fronting. All the black people are non-executives and not involved in operations and technical issues at all,” he said. “You have a situation where a black-owned company can win a tender, but all issues like black empowerment and gender issues are not considered.

“It seems we are opening a very wide door to fronting.”

Manyathi responded that the make-up of the bidding group was taken into consideration, saying the structuring of a bidding team influenced the awarding of points.

“Policy was applied to the tee,” he said, adding that they wanted a team that could operate the integrated fare management system, and run an intelligent transport system.

Strachan said the standing committee had reservations about the evaluation committee and its work.

He then asked that Manyathi submit the composition of the bid company and a record of the evaluation committee’s decision-making process.

Strachan also announced that the committee was formally proposing a meeting with the Treasury, and reaffirmed a resolution informed by the legislature for Treasury to review processes for bidding and the awarding of tenders.

The consortium is made up of TMT, an international company called EIG, and Digicor, a fleet management company.