Scores of contractors are up in arms over the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB) web-based registration system which continues to experience technical glitches, making assessment of applications for approval by the board difficult.┬á
When it was launched in 2013, the system dubbed Integrated Procumbent Management System (IPMS) was welcomed by the business community saying it was a step in the right direction but they are now questioning the wisdom of introducing the system.┬á
The system was also aimed at addressing the inconveniences suffered by clients who travelled long distances to access the service in Gaborone.
PPADB spokesperson Ditapole Tsheboeng confirmed that PPADB is aware of the complaints by some users which may be due to slow internet connectivity from user end while accessing IPMS, thus contributing to slow access to the online service.
She added that there are Government initiatives in place to address network capability and bandwidth challenges nationally, which are envisaged to improve internet accessibility and speed.
According to Tsheboeng, since the inception of IPMS in March 2013, the system has performed well and PPADB has been able to register a total of 8239 (Services 1763, Works 3880, Supplies 2596), which is impressive.
“Whilst PPADB had set itself a target of 6-10 weeks for registration, it has not always been possible to adhere to it due to the high demand for registration. PPADB is in the process of increasing its capacity to cope with the increased demand,” she said.
Ditapole said like any system, for efficient and effective operation of IPMS, there is need to perform system architecture upgrades from time to time.
“As such there are times when scheduled maintenance is performed resulting in downtime which on average lasts about 4 hours, and is usually communicated to the users in advance,” she said.
Some clients have also raised complaints about a company that was contracted to design and implement the IPMS claiming it is operating the system from India through social media networks such as Skype. They said such arrangement is also to blame for the inefficient system.
Some PPADB’s clients are also questioning the wisdom of awarding the tender through a Direct Procurement method to the company┬á saying there are some local companies which have the capacity to ‘operate’ such a system.
Tsheboeng said “whilst Nextenders Pty ltd is incorporated in India, for purposes of the system development and implementation the company contracted to design and implement IPMS has representatives in Botswana and there is always a developer onsite. The representatives are based at PPADB offices and are at liberty to communicate with their counterparts whenever necessary. The contract allows for support and maintenance of the system for a period of two years after the defects liability period.”
PPADB reportedly awarded the company the tender for P7 million and is reportedly paying P700┬á000 whenever the system experiences some failures and there is need to carry out maintenance by the company’s two employees stationed at PPADB headquarters.
But Tsheboeng said as part of the contract, “the system support and maintenance phase will kick in after Go-Live of the whole application and after expiry of the defects liability period.”
“The cost for such maintenance is included in the contract sum awarded for the project,” she said.
There are also concerns that some applications which were submitted in October last year are still pending.
Tsheboeng confirmed that the turnaround time is 6-10 weeks saying but on account of the high demand for the service; there are applications that have gone beyond the turnaround time.
“Efforts are being made to address the backlog by the end of the first quarter of 2015-2016, when adequate resources would have been availed,” she said.
Contractors are also up in arms over an Express Service system introduced By PPADB where applicants who pay P5, 000 are issued with certificates within four days. They allege that the express service has contributed to delays in issuance of certificates as more resources (and preferential treatment) are focused on express applications for those who can afford to pay P5000.
Tsheboeng said PPADB: PPADB has dedicated resources for both Express and Normal applications.
Concerns have been raised that graduates cannot be issued with certificates if they are not members of Engineers Registration Board whose chairman is Ex- PPADB Executive Director, Armando Lionjanga. The contractors wonder why PPADB is imposing limitations on matters that are the exclusive concern of ER.┬á
Tsheboeng explained that PPADB is implementing requirements of the Engineers Registration Act.
Some contractors have also questioned the ability of PPADB to adjudicate on applications since none of its employees or associates are members of ERB.
Tsheboeng said that PPADB engineers are in the process of registering with ERB.