|Transcription tenders in the spotlight|
|Written by Edson Haufiku|
|Wednesday, 13 June 2012 22:36|
Companies tendering for court transcription tenders are accusing the Ministry of Justice of unfair tender practices after the tender guarantee fees for both the high and lower courts were increased from N$75 000 to close to a million dollars. The transcription tender is due for closure next week Tuesday, 19 June.
Besides the increase in the security guarantee fees, prospective tenderers are further questioning why the tender to supply digital transcription machinery for the High Court was never advertised, contrary to tender procedures that all government tenders exceeding N$10 000 be put out in the public domain. They also want answers on why the Ministry again produced a contract filled with spelling errors after having promised over a year ago to rectify the errors.
The prospective tenderers are of the opinion that the drastic increase in the guarantee fees is specifically designed to sideline companies owned by previously-disadvantaged groups. According to the new tender contract, seen by Informanté, a tenderer is now required to have a security guarantee fee of N$300 000 for the High Court and N$500 000 for the lower courts in order to be considered in the awarding of the transcription tender, which solely lays at the discretion of Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice.
Sylvester Bock, the Director of Central Administration and Legal Services denied that the Justice Ministry increased the security with the intention of sidelining certain tenderers, arguing that judging from the current situation at the various courts in the country, the Ministry wants to guarantee that a company with experience is awarded the tender.
According to Bock, the security fee is not required in hard cash, but as a guarantee from a recognised banking institution or insurer as per the Banking and Short-term Insurers’ Acts and that prospective tenderers have 14 days after being awarded the contract to obtain such a guarantee.
According to Section 4 of the new contract, “government shall for the duration of the agreement make available sufficient recording machines in proper working condition.” A representative of a transcription company who spoke to Informanté, questioned where government will procure modern equipment if the lower courts still utilise outdated analogue equipment that use cassettes, which are in short supply and are unreliable as they lose information during conversions.
“Why would I obtain a security guarantee fee of N$800 000 if I would still be using unreliable analogue equipment that does not guarantee sufficient work output? The representative asked.
Shifting to the awarding of the supply and installation of digital equipment tender at the High Courts, Bock says the High Courts were installed with a complicated JAVS system as phase one of two phases of the planned move to the new electronic E-Judicial system to be implemented in all courts in the near future and should speed up current and pending court cases.
According to those in the know, the E-Judicial system is not only designed to speed up court cases, but also shifts the litigation focus to the State as opposed to the current situation were defense lawyers initiate litigation. The E-Judicial system is reportedly backed by the Ministry of Justice and the Law Society.
The lack of modern transcription equipment has created a huge backlog of unfinalised court cases due to the slow transcription of court documents and this has frustrated prospective tenderers. A company, Shatech prematurely ended their agreement with government after they were awarded the contract in 2008 before another company, Soho, made up of former Shatech employees took over the contract last year.
|Last Updated on Friday, 15 June 2012 13:54|