Cape Town – The troubled launch of eNatis, the transport department’s electronic national traffic information system, has thrown the spotlight on the Tasima consortium, which won the R311 million tender to implement the system in 2001.

The consortium’s prime contractor, which assumes overall responsibility for the project, is Face Technologies, a subsidiary of commercialised state-owned enterprise arivia.kom.

The remaining partners are two black economic empowerment (BEE) firms, Thuthukani Information Technology Services and Webcom Consulting. Each holds a stake of one-third in the consortium.

Confusion between the eNatis tender and the transport department’s R650 million tender for credit card driver’s licences may be behind rumours of inappropriately close relations between Tasima’s shareholders and the government.

Muddling the issue is the fact that Face Technologies is also a member of the Prodiba consortium, which won the driver’s licence tender.

Prodiba’s other members are fraudster Schabir Shaik’s Kobitech and Thomson CSF, renamed Thales, the French firm named in the Shaik case.

The Prodiba tender has come under the spotlight due to news that former transport minister Mac Maharaj and his wife Zarina were being investigated by the Scorpions for alleged payments from Shaik.

Johan Vorster, the managing director of Tasima, was formerly the general manager of Prodiba and, according to Tasima’s website, remains involved with the company at an executive management level.

Vorster said last week that Tasima had “been recognised as one of the top 300 BEE companies” for the past four years.

He said Tasima’s stakeholders were committed to resolving all issues related to eNatis as quickly as possible.

Vorster said eNatis was experiencing extraordinarily high transaction volumes due to a backlog of transactions. The database servers had insufficient capacity, which caused instability if there was a sudden increase in transactions.

“This capacity needed to be increased and Tasima is installing additional database server capacity in the national data centre,” he said. This was due to be operational by today.

“The system will be closely monitored and any additional optimisation steps will be implemented as required.”

The implementation of eNatis involved combining 14 separate databases into one central database. It will enable new features such as a national driver’s licence booking system, online transactions, ATM payments and extensive mobile law enforcement.

The start date of execution of Tasima’s five-year contract was June 2002. This means the contract is due to expire at the end of this month.

Vorster put the contract’s value at R311 million, excluding value-added tax and adjustments for foreign exchange fluctuations and inflation.

Nearly 100 staff members with specialised skills had been forwarded to the eNatis project by the three consortium members, he said.

Face Technologies is responsible for software development, the national call centre, the national project office, training and business consulting.

Thuthukani meets all network infrastructure requirements, while Webcom provides all hardware requirements.