9 January 2013

Tanzania: Used Motor Vehicle Inspections Stall

THE absence of a Board of Directors is said to have affected tendering initiatives at the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), including the tender for pre-shipment inspection of imported, used vehicles.

The Board, which among other things is mandated to authorize floatation of such tenders, was disbanded by the Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, about four months ago. Dr Kigoda disbanded the Board citing inefficiency and lack of accountability.

He promised to form a new, more dynamic one as soon as possible. One of the crucial functions likely to be affected if the board is kept on hold for long is the inspection of used motor vehicles from abroad. Reports say that the contracts of companies authorized to carry out the inspection expired in December last year.

The companies initially signed a one-year contract with TBS to conduct the pre-shipment inspection of motor vehicles in various countries abroad and cannot resume the services or other companies appointed to take over until the Board gives its consent.

The other sensitive duty that is awaiting the Board's approval is the recent decision by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA). The Complaints and Review Committee (CRC) ordered TBS to restart the process on tendering for provision of pre-shipment verification of conformity to standards (PVoC) for used motor vehicles.

CRC's decision on the matter followed a request by the Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Centre Co. Ltd (JEVIC) which last year applied for an administrative review against TBS regarding the tendering process. According to facts submitted to the Committee, JEVIC was aggrieved by the decision to disqualify it from bidding for the tender on grounds that it violated some bidding procedures.

Contacted on the matter, the TBS Acting Director General, Mr Leandri Kinabo, said his office had already received PPRA's directives on the matter but cannot do anything until it obtains a go-ahead from the Board of Directors which apparently doesn't exist at the moment.

"We are aware of the directives and actually we officially received it but we are waiting for the Board's guidance on how we can go about it," Mr Kinabo said in a phone interview yesterday. Apart from the directive, Mr Kinabo also admitted that the action on vehicle inspection companies will have to be held pending the appointment of the new Board.

However, he was quick to add that with the absence of the Board, TBS can seek the guidance of the minister or the Permanent Secretary of the ministry on how to go about the issues. "We were expecting the Board to be appointed soon. But this has not happened and it is a challenge," he admitted.

Efforts to contact Minister Kigoda to shed more light on the matter failed as he is reportedly attending an international meeting on standardization matters in Arusha.

Addressing a press conference soon after he disbanded TBS Board last year, Minister Kigoda said the decision to disband the TBS's board of directors basically aimed at enhancing productivity in regulating the standards of goods. He said that the government would be keen in forming a new instrument that would deliver according to the set goals and objectives.

Apart from lack of the Board, TBS is now headed by the Acting DG after the former boss, Mr Charles Ekelege, was suspended to pave way for investigations over a number of alleged irregularities and financial mismanagement in TBS, based on the Controller and Auditor General (CAG))'s report.

Speaking to reporters soon after his Board was disbanded; the former Board Chairman, Mr Oliver Mhaiki, told the 'Daily News' that he was unaware of the reasons behind the minister's decision to disband the board. "We were performing our duties properly.

I don't know the reasons that prompted the minister's decision," he said. Other board members were Mr Donald Chidowu, Mr Rashid A. Salim, Dr Bertha Maegga, Mr Odilo Majengo, Prof. Ntengua Mdoe, Mr Peter Machunde, Mr Godfrey Mariki, Ms Suzy Laizer, Ms Elpina Mlaki, and Mr George Simbachawene.

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