SMMEs derail delivery of PPE to Eastern Cape schools

A truck delivering PPE and sanitisers for schools in the Ingquza Hill municipal area was chased away from Lusikisiki on Wednesday. Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

SMMEs in parts of the OR Tambo district have vowed to stop “outside” companies from delivering personal protective equipment (PPEs), hand sanitisers and water tanks to  600 schools in the region until their own services are used.

A truck delivering PPE and sanitisers for schools in the Ingquza Hill municipal area was chased away from Lusikisiki on Wednesday.

Ingquza Hill Business Chamber public relations officer Mlamli Galela said the actions of business owners was not meant to start a war with the government.

All they wanted was to be allocated some of the work as local businesses.

“We met with the district director of the OR Tambo Coastal [district of education] on Tuesday where we voiced our complaints,” he said.

“We found out that companies from Johannesburg and East London have been appointed to deliver sanitisers and PPE.

“Why not us? Supplying sanitiser is not a specialised job. All you do is buy these sanitisers and distribute them to the schools.”

Galela said after their meeting on Tuesday, they received word that a truck had arrived with PPE and sanitisers in Lusikisiki.

He said they managed to track it down to a warehouse in town on Wednesday.

“We are not fighting with government. We just told the driver that he must leave and we escorted him out of town.”

The country’s Grade 7 and 12 pupils return to school on Monday, and the provinces have been delivering safety equipment to places of learning.

Nyandeni SMMEs chair Lwazi Macingwane said while  an advert had gone out for companies to register on the education department’s database for delivery of protective clothing and sanitisers to schools, they were “shocked” to discover that only three companies had been appointed to do the work in the Eastern Cape, none of them from the OR Tambo district.

He said provincial education bosses had not followed proper supply chain management requirements as the tender was not advertised.

“As SMMEs we feel left out,” he said, adding the decision to overlook them smacked of collusion and corruption.

“It feels like it’s just a group of friends who decided to come together and give each other the tender.”

He said many local SMMEs were battling to survive and had not received a cent from the state’s financial schemes meant to provide relief to businesses.

“These companies must stop. If they push on, we will show them we mean business,” Macingwane said.

Port St Johns Business Chamber secretary Andile Manitshana said they had received complaints from their members who were struggling without business.

Approached for comment on Wednesday, provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said he was busy finalising a media statement on the matter.

DispatchLIVE had not received the statement by print deadline.

By SIKHO NTSHOBANE

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