Sunday, October 17, 2021

New couriers look to upset monopoly cart

A decision by government to open up for bidding has the blown the lucrative P53 million a year Central Medical Stores logistics management contract wide open and put the country’s courier industry on the cross-hairs.

The contract is currently managed by Botswana Couriers, a private company that is wholly owned by Botswana government.

A flurry of courier companies have been formed in the last few months as the industry braces itself for the tender.

Sunday Standard investigations have revealed that even some Cabinet ministers have in anticipation of the tender started courier companies, using some individuals as fronts.

Botswana Couriers has been managing the contract for three years which elapsed recently.

A decision was, however, taken by government to 

extend the contract with Botswana Couriers by a further nine months while tender documents are still being prepared.

The tender is likely to be floated in the next few months.

Botswana Couriers, which got the tender by direct appointment, has been formally told that they would not be getting the contractor on a silver platter as before.

Instead other courier companies will be invited.

Under this contract, Central Medical Stores handles as part of its annual budget consignments worth over P2 billion of all that have to be ferried and shipped by the contracted courier company to selected medical facilities across the country.

Government pays just under P5 million a month to the courier that handles the job.

In a breakneck competition industry, this has left many courier companies salivating.

A leading courier company, Sprint Couriers has declared its interest in the job.

In an interview, Pinkie Setlalekgosi who manages Sprint Couriers, said her company had all that is needed to handle the contract.

She told Sunday Standard that her company had been handling exceedingly sensitive materials like banking documents and examination papers.

She called on government to stick to an undertaking to open up the tender, especially given the amount of money involved.

“Our technical competence is beyond reproach. We are way above the rest in the industry. We also have world class partners across the globe. My view is that we should all be invited.”

Setlalekgosi said it would also be advisable that given the size and also strategic importance of the tender to the nation, the government should seriously consider dividing it into two.

From the look of things, Botswana Couriers is also not going to give in without a fight.

The Head of Marketing at Botswana Couriers, Squander Baitshephi told Sunday Standard that his company had done all that was required of it as per the agreement with the Ministry of Health.

“We are immensely proud of our track record. When we started with this contract the CMS warehouse was in a state of dysfunction. We invested resources. 

We invested expertise, skills and talent. We put in place temperature control systems. Today the CMS warehouse operates efficiently and with the best systems,” said Baitshephi.

He added that before Botswana Couriers took charge, government was losing no less than P50 million in drugs and medicine that had to be disposed.

“That is no longer the case. Out of the P2 billion we managed, damage was just P40 000,” said Baitshephi.

He added that before the arrival of Botswana Couriers at CMS, there was a lot of rot on the floor owing to absence of systems.

“Our policy today is first-in, first-out,” he said.

He said while medical facilities across the country used to go for long stretches without medication that was no longer the case.

“Today if you place an order, you can be sure that your supplies will be arriving within 42 hours. We have an efficient system – end to end. If there is any delay it would be a result of procurement. And as Botswana Couriers we are not responsible for procurement.

He said the improvement is a result of skills and talent that Botswana Couriers had to invest in, including liaising with security experts offered by government.

“Health is very central to the country. And it cannot be given to people who simply want to try their luck because of money involved in the contract.

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