Fresh information has emerged linking a cabal of Cabinet ministers and prominent businessmen with plans to take over the fuel operations of the Central Transport Organisation (CTO) with the help of senior government officials.
Insiders allege that following a memo from the Ministry of Transport and Communications, some members of cabinet used inside information to help themselves and their business associates to set up filling stations that are currently mushrooming across the country.
“Some people within cabinet used inside information to either set up fillings stations, become business partners or helped their friends and families to set up such facilities, hence the mushrooming of filling stations across the country,” insiders said.
This has heightened fears that the recent shortage of fuel at CTO depots throughout the country was a part of a wider plot by some people with interests to justify a cabinet memo that was approved by cabinet for the uplifting of fuel from private filling stations for CTO vehicles that some operations of the organisation should be privatised.┬á
“Hundreds of government vehicles were grounded because some people who have interest in seeing operations of CTO privatised are sabotaging the organisation to make it seem as if it is incompetent and there is need for privatisation,” said an insider.
CTO Principal Public Relations Officer, Priscilla Simula confirmed that Cabinet agreed to the Ministry of Transports and Communications’ proposal to outsource fuel operations after a study was carried out to reduce workload at the CTO. ┬á
“Yes I can confirm that plans are underway to privatise CTO’s fuel operations following a study that was done on CTO’s systems,” she said. Simula said the Ministry and CTO were working on modalities to ensure that there is smooth transition for outsourcing to take off.
“We are still working on that. A study was conducted on the operations of CTO and it was discovered that there is a need to privatise fuel operations of CTO,” she said.
On allegations that some powerful individuals were lining up for the outsourcing of fuel operations and were using inside information, Simula said tenders would be open to all service providers who can guarantee performance.
She pointed out that the private sector has the capacity to uplift fuel for government fleets.
“A study was done to establish if this is feasible, and what I can assure you is that the private sector is capable of dealing with that,” she said.
Sources say the privatisation of CTO fuel operations could mean closing the organisation’s fuel service centres and job losses.
But Simula allayed fears of job losses saying the employees would be absorbed by the organisation’s supplies department.
“Whatever we do, we consider such things thoroughly. To answer your question, the issue of job loss was not overlooked.┬á So when this matter is implemented we want it to run smoothly,” she said.
She added that the implementation of outsourcing of fuel operations is expected to kick off during the 2015/16 financial year.
On whether the recent shortage of fuel that affected the government’s departments was linked to sabotage by some senior government officials who intend to take operations of CTO, Simula described the allegations as untrue.