The chairperson of the infamous National Transport Corporation (NTC) gave an interview in l’express on Saturday 29th of June and what he said is extremely revealing of the interference of subterranean forces in the running of institutions. If what he says is true, then we must understand that even the Central Procurement Board (CPB), which has the statutory obligation to guarantee that public procurement is transparent, open, above-board so that there is no insider dealing or manipulation of specifications, is riddled with practices which sail close to the winds of conflicts of interest and undue influence.
In simple terms, the NTC needed to purchase buses. It called for tenders and only one tenderer met the requirements of the tender. When the matter was before the CPB, the latter started to question the retention of the only qualified tenderer and suggested that IFRAMAC should obtain the contract for the supply of buses. ICAC must open an investigation on this very important issue of potential corruption.
When the CPB did not have its way, the whole tendering exercise for badly needed buses for the NTC was cancelled. The rest of the NTC saga with burnt buses, the Soreze fatal accidents and the unavailability of spare parts is well documented. But what is not so well documented is the following: Why did the NTC purchase buses in 2007 when the buses were only prototypes? Who were the experts who went to negotiate the deal? Why and how did the NTC agree that the supplier for spare parts for its TATA buses should be an affiliate of the United Bus Service (UBS) which is its direct competitor?
What is also required is information about the shareholdings in the UBS. The Prime Minister must give instructions for a full enquiry to be conducted in order to determine whether or not the shareholders in the UBS are related – family or otherwise – to those persons, whether in Government or within its periphery – who either take or give orders for decisions to be taken in their interests rather than those of the NTC. The nature of the beneficial interest in the shares of the UBS and all its subsidiaries might help the ordinary people of this “plaisir” country to appreciate the sense of outrage of the Chairperson of the NTC.
Not only do we have the CPB acting not as an institution having as its primary objective the upholding of the law and not being at the beck and call of ministers to rubberstamp their decisions but we also have the National Transport Authority (NTA) which simply does the bidding of the Minister responsible for public disaster – or is it infrastructure? It is only in this country that the NTA, which is an Authority finds that its authoritative decisions are not that authoritative. The NTA succumbs to ministerial pressure as a matter of course and one is left to wonder whether public funds really need to be spent on public bodies like the NTA when all decisions are taken within the confines of the minister’s office.
As the guardian and trustee of the public good, the Prime Minister must put a stop to such blatantly unpatriotic activities.