Government is still grappling to take full control of an upgraded Malawi Road Traffic Management System (Maltis) from a South Africa-based consultant, Weekend Nation understands.
On at least two occasions, government was forced to extend the contract period with the consultant, Gerrit Fischer who owns Fischer Consulting, in efforts to iron out outstanding issues, such as skills transfer to local staff, and an outstanding payment to the firm.
In January this year, the government gave the contractor up to June 30 2019 to hand over the system. But this has not been done.
Spokesperson for Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) Angelina Makwecha, in an interview, confirmed of the status quo but asked for more time to get details.
Earlier, the DTRSS gave the firm a January 2019 deadline—six months after the initial deadline elapsed—to hand over the system, which includes a source code for the system currently being operated from South Africa.
In the letter we have seen, dated December 3 2018 from the Ministry of Transport and Public Works (Ref, No RT/CONF/A50 and titled “Complaints on the performance of Maltis and other related-issues” and addressed to the consultant) there is a query questionning the performance of the system.
Director of DRTSS Fergus Gondwe, who signed the letter, instructs the consultant to commence the process to hand over the system to the Government of Malawi by early January 2019.
“You will recall that I wrote you on the current Maltis performance and the corresponding deteriorating levels of service on several processes. I also wrote you on the need to hand over management of Fortigate firewall and followed up with several reminders but no acknowledgement of receipt or response has come from yourselves,” reads the letter in part.
The letter adds that delays to show payment are persisting in all transaction centres, causing long queues and leaving customers frustrated.
”Similarly, failure of face value documents to print which requires processing of duplicates and voiding of duplicates fees has reached a very bad state, “ reads the four-page letter in part.
Gondwe, in an ealier telephone interview, confirmed authoring the letter but was quick to add that government wants a smooth handover process of the system and not get confrontational with the consultant.
In an earlier WhatsApp response, the consultant pointed out that the contract with DRTSS introduces an obligation of confidentiality and, therefore, not appropriate to provide detailed responses surrounding the deal.
The consultant, nonetheless, indicated that DRTSS had fallen behind in the agreed payment schedule and that he had not been fully paid yet. He did not disclose the remaining balance.
Weekend Nation understands that DRTSS owed Fisher consulting K600 million, out of the total cost of the contract of about K1.6 billion (R38 million).