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FUEL BACK AT CENTRAL TRANSPORT ADMIN (CTA) DEPOTS

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mbongeni@times.co.sz

MBABANE – It is back to business for government petrol attendants.

While the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is engaged in a protracted legal battle with workers under the Central Transport Administration (CTA) over the transformation of the entity into a parastatal, behind the scenes is a consensus that has resulted in both parties lifting the ban on the usage of fuel bowsers at CTA depots.

 

storage

 CTA has five depots found in strategically placed locations countrywide. For the past seven months, the fuel storage tankers were not used. This resulted in government vehicles experiencing fuel shortages and having to travel long distances to fill up at alternative government facilities. 

Government cars based in Mbabane, for instance, had to be driven to either Siteki or Pigg’s Peak fire and emergency stations for refuelling.

So frustrating was this arrangement such that some vehicles reportedly ran out of fuel before they could reach these destinations. Most departments decried inefficiency as they were grounded by the fuel shortage.However, new developments are that government vehicles will now be refuelled at all CTA bowsers.

 

tankers

The Times SUNDAY has learnt that during the course of this week, fuel tankers had been filling up all the bowsers with diesel and petrol. 

The fuel that was loaded into the bowsers by CTA management is said to have cost E3.4 million. The management mentioned that the tankers carry a capacity of about 282 000 litres of fuel. However, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport hinted that the tankers were not on full capacity. As of Friday, government vehicles assigned for Incwala National Ceremony were seen refuelling from all the five CTA stations.

Washington Khumalo, the under-fire CTA General Transport Manager, confirmed that an agreement had since been reached that government cars would again be refuelled from CTA bowsers. He said his team was ready for the task. “This is with effect from today (Friday),” he said.

“As CTA, we will continue to be strict with the requirements needed for refuelling. Our petrol attendants remain committed not to allow misuse on government property and fuel,” Khumalo said.

He further mentioned that Head 53 (Ministry of Public Works and Transport) got used for the procurement of the fuel instead of the Head 91 (Central Transport Administration).

 

redress

Head 91 contains the trading account which was suspended by the ministry resulting in the workers going to court for redress.Khangeziwe Mabuza, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, yesterday confirmed that government cars would now get refuelled at CTA depots.  

Mabuza’s confirmation was also shared by Mduduzi Lukhele, the acting PS, who explained that the decision to use Head 53 was because CTA needed to be a fully-fledged government department.

“That decision was taken at the beginning of the government financial year, and the procurement was in respect of that decision,” he said. 

He said government departments would apply the formula that was used for refuelling, and that the only difference with the new system was that the procurement of fuel was different. “There are guidelines that were put in place which will be used by the department when going to refuel. These guidelines were drafted by the GTM,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Themba Masuku said he had heard the news that refuelling was back at CTA. He said the availability of fuel would help government speed up its response to ongoing national response.

tools

Workers at CTA said they were a bit relieved when they heard the news that fuel was back at the department. They stated that going to work daily and finding no tools was stressing them.

“All we want is to go back to work. For a while, we did not know our fate as workers, and as a result, we ended up wandering around, without work to do. There is no electricity, no parts and every operation is grounded,” said one of the workers.

Another worker opined that they were ready to accept the transformation of CTA to CTO. “As long as we will keep our work, we accept the transformation,” he said.

On Thursday, the nation woke up to headlines that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) had reported the GTM to the Civil Service Commission (CSC) that he needed to be removed from the position. The committee accused Khumalo of allegedly colluding with a supplier, professional misconduct and dishonesty.

Reacting to the PAC’s calls, a confident Khumalo said he was waiting for a formal charge before addressing the matter.He said he, and his team, was ready to vacate office if they were found guilty of the allegations. He said for now, PAC findings were just baseless claims aimed at protecting the corrupt.

“I will not respond to these fabricated allegations, and I am not scared of them. All I am waiting for is to get formally charged before I can react and respond,” he said.

“If they want to remove me from the office, they should proceed, but everything should be factual, not one-sided. I can tell you now we are suffering because someone was getting protected and the truth will soon be out,” Khumalo said.

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