Why abolish procuremebt of used machines

17Mar 2016
Patience Mutabirwa
The Guardian
Pictorial & Analysis
Why abolish procuremebt of used machines

In one of the previous articles in this column titled ”why government should amend procurement law”;It was recommended to abolish procurement of used railway machinery, ship or aircraft under whatever interest as opposed to section 66(1) of Public Procurement Act, 2011 (PPA,2011).

In today’s discussion I will try to explain the reasons behind that recommendation.

Before explaining the reasons for abolishment of used machines I would like to remind fellow professionals and the public at large that, for any professional buyer, consideration for buying should not only be on “traditional five (5) Rs” (i.e. Right Quality, Right quantity,Right time, Right price & Right place) but also on Warranty/guarantee and other after sale services in general. This is more important when procurement involves equipment/machines rather than when buying consumables.

From the economic point of view, development in a particular state is measured by GDP and/or per capita income but it can also be measured and easily seen by common people through procurement of brand new machineries and equipment with modern technologies.

Also, the presence of modern public infrastructure is another development indicator.

The 5th phase government under Dr. John Magufuli promised during campaign and is still vowing publicly that is going to build an industrial based economy and personally I am convinced that this could be one of the reasons why the President wants to repeal the procurement law with immediate effect, because industrialization with used machines is definitely a big joke!

As pointed out under para two above, a professional purchaser will always make analysis interms of acquisition, handling, fixing, maintenance & repair costs and the after sale services offered by the manufacturer/supplier of a certain machinery/equipment before deciding to acquire a particular machine or hire the same if it is a must.

It is argued so because after acquisition, a machine becomes part and parcel of an entity’s operations up to the end of its useful life. Infact, disposition cost should be included in the entire cost of machines and other heavy plants/equipment.

Though I stand to be corrected, it is my understanding that before the year 2011, procurement of used machinery and equipment using public funds was not part in the procurement law and specifically was banned under the Public Procurement Act,2004 regulation 58(3) G.N.No.97 of 2005 which provides that “Motor vehicles, heavy plant and spare parts to be purchased shall be brand new”.

The act, was a criminal offence and there are some pending cases in the Courts of law against those who violated this provision of the law.

Unfortunately, for the reasons best known to the government and the parliament respectively, procurement of used railway machinery, ship or aircraft where national interest demands so was introduced. This is according to section 66(1) of PPA, 2011.

Surprisingly, the law does not provide what national interest is!Logically, one should not expect to find such a provision in the books of law in an era whereby every body preaches science and technology!

Apart from the fact that used machineries are dangerous to lives of our people [Please remember the fatal marine accidents in lake Victoria (MV Bukoba tragedy in 1996, MV Spice Islander in the Indian ocean, etc.) and the unforgetable Train accident in the early 1990s]! Infact, no manufacturer could dare to offer warrant to an used machinery (locomotive, ship and aircraft) but also the issue of maintenance and repair shall be difficult because availability of spareparts is questionable leave alone the issue of after sale services and technical support.

If the government made that proposal and persuaded the law makers to pass the bill in the spirit of budgetary constraints, I would like to remind them that cheap is always expensive!

They are just buying at the taxpayers’ expense and if the provision will be left to prevail in the forthcoming legislation reviving the TRL and ATCL will be like the children’s dance which never win through! As per waswahili saying Ngoma ya kitoto haikeshi.

According to Mr. E.L.Nchimbi, a renowned professional in the Procurement and Supply arena in one of his articles in Procurement and Supply Journal Issue No. 4 of Jan – June 2011 it was presented that

“the amendment becomes a credit only when it is carried out, it does really serve the people, and it does so beyond doubt”.

However, it is a liability when it does not!” Nchimbi was cautioning the government and other stakeholders when the bill to repeal the PPA, 2004 and anact PPA, 2011 was presented before the parliament for the first time in early 2011.

Mr. Nchimbi went on lamenting that, there were romours that the amendment was motivated by those that matter in Government positions to accommodate the purchase of an electricity generating plant owned by one company going by the name Dawans!!!

“If these were mere allegations why should one think of buying some equipment that have been written off and disposed?” Lamented another professional.

In the same article Mr. Nchimbi reminded those who were already of age in the 1970s and 1980s, to “remember some of these second hand things that made the country land hard on tarmac ground without any cushioning”.

To mention but a little, he mentioned the two planes hired through the facilitation of some scrupulous people adding that the list would be endless if it were to include those purchases of second hand goods that did not come to light.

Like Nchimbi, whose voice did not echo, I am cautioning and advising those concerned with law reforms to strike the above referred section “66(1)” of the law and other irrelevant ones for an efficient and effective procurement law as the 5th phase government prepares to make Tanzania a donor country!!!!

The author is an Authorized Procurement and Supplies Professional.
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