File image: IOL.

Limpopo provincial government concedes there are challenges but after meeting the SMMEs and main contractor, they are all committed to resolve the problems

This after an exposé in The Sunday Independent detailed how the company apparently reneged on promises made to small, medium and micro-sized enterprises and short-changed them out of R192m. The company had initially promised SMMEs 33% but later had a change of heart, saying this would not be sustainable for it. 

Following the exposé, Limpopo Connexion (LCX), which took out the tender, and other provincial structures convened a meeting with the SMMEs.
A source with knowledge of the meeting said more complaints were raised over a lack of transparency with regard to the planning of the transmission network. 

The source said the SMMEs representation in the steering committee was a big issue, especially since they never had any direct engagement with LCX, and the board could not understand why this was the case.

“The fact that the SMMEs don’t have a formal structure (governance) that liaise from time to time with LCX is worrying the board.
“The 33% is the biggest issue, to the point where a suggestion for ring-fencing the SMMEs budget was brought forward for consideration. 

“Interpretation of the pricing schedule, whether it’s profitable, was also questioned, and the response was very negative,” said the source.
The source added that the company was further accused of not capacitating the SMMEs by not getting them involved in the operations of the project.

“The first phase of deploying the software and hardware for the data centre was also an issue.
“Even though the procurement of the equipment was within OEMs (original equipment manufacturers), the SMMEs should have been involved in observing the installations as much as we will be expected to, later on, maintain the infrastructure. 

“Again, some equipment purchased for the data centre could have been easily sourced through the SMMEs.
“All in all, Altech was labelled as to have not been honest about various matters,” said the source.
LCX’s capacity also came under scrutiny, with the board indicating it was worried it lacked the capacity to manage the project. 

Limpopo provincial government spokesperson Phuti Seloba admitted that the project had some hiccups but added that progress was being made.
“This is a massive project and a unique project in the country. The wi-fi we are implementing will be the fastest in the country.
“There are challenges, particularly with job allocations when it comes to SMMEs, but we are committed to resolving them. We met the SMMEs and the main contractor, now we are clearer and are all committed to resolving the problems,” he said. 

Seloba said in a few months they would be activating some sites. “We are also making sure that the SMMEs are benefiting.” 

The Sunday Independent