The Western Cape government has defended its decision to award a R38 million contract to a construction consortium that supplied over two million surgical masks to a single provincial department.
The province’s personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement disclosure report reveals the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works (DTPW) spent R68.9 million on all PPE contracts.
Tusk Construction Support Services was paid R38.9 million to supply 2 570 000 surgical masks at a cost of R16.66 each, the report revealed.
Finance MEC David Maynier released the report last week, detailing the province’s PPE procurement and expenditure in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Department spokesperson Jandre Bakker said Tusk Construction Support Services had provided a range of services to the department since their appointment prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At the beginning of lockdown, all suppliers who had transversal contracts with the National Treasury (NT) were contacted and indicated they are unable to supply due to stock availability.
“The orders with Tusk Construction Support Services was placed early April 2020 (and delivered 24 April 2020), whilst the first version of National Treasury Instruction 5 of 2020/21 was issued on 28 April, way after DTPW had already procured and received these items. The different average unit prices are due to supply and demand,” he said.
Bakker said Tusk Construction Support Services consists of a consortium between Tusk, Standard Bank and Massbuild.
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Massbuild operates four complementary brands, which includes Builders Warehouse, Builders Express, Builders Superstore and Builders Trade Depot, where certain PPE items are sold.
National Treasury issued four different iterations of benchmark pricing for the disclosure period.
The benchmark pricing for a surgical mask is R11.50 per unit as at 3 July.
The company was also awarded a contract for 100 digital thermometers, priced at R2 300 each. For this, Tusk Construction Support Services was paid a total of R230 000.
The benchmark pricing for thermometers was set at R992 per unit at 3 July.
Asked if the R2 300 for a single thermometer was exorbitant, Bakker said: “No, the price is not considered to be exorbitant. The order was placed on 25 March (at the beginning of lockdown) and people were panic buying and the items were not readily available in South Africa.
“National Treasury Instruction 5 of 2020/21 issued a list of PPE with their maximum prices on 28 April 2020. A thermometer on the National Treasury list date 28 April 2020 is priced at R2 527.20,” he said.
Bakker said the price R992 was only issued by the National Treasury in July.
“It is important to note that the National Treasury issued various benchmarking prices during the period which the report covers. These dates are noted in the report,” he said.
The company was paid R30 546.80 for 500 one litre hand sanitiser containers. A further R118 624.50 was paid for 22 500 pairs of latex gloves.
Other companies awarded high-value contracts include Shine the Way 1065 cc, who were paid R11.5 million for 1 000 000 surgical masks.
“The company had a lead time of one month before they could deliver the items. They were further procured via the quotation system (IPS) regulated by the Provincial Treasury.