Pretoria. – The countrywide waste management industry is in an uproar because the Tshwane Metro Council is considering a R2bn Korean 30-year tender for the conversion of methane gas into energy.
The Institute of Waste Management of Southern Africa (IWMSA), with its 914 members, took Tshwane to task in September in an angry letter responding to a notification that the Metro Council wanted to put aside normal tender procedures and consider the tender from the Sudokwon SLC consortium.
The members are threatening legal action if Tshwane goes ahead with its plans.
In the notification Tshwane justifies its action by saying that the Korean bid is apparently particularly advantageous, has exceptional cost benefits, and the is a “uniquely innovative concept”.
This service is apparently being offered to the city at no cost.
Councillor Adriana Randall, DA spokesperson for finance, said her party was also concerned about the tender. She said it had so far not been presented to the council, but when council members officially had sight of it the die would have been cast.
She said that the tender, about which officials in the council's department of waste management had seemingly not been consulted, involved the Koreans "harvesting" methane gas from dump sites for conversion into energy, which would be passed on to the electricity grid for compensation.
She said that Ekurhuleni, eThekwini and Johannesburg had similar plants provided and operated by local suppliers. It was therefore not clear why the Korean offer was regarded as unique.
She said that by supporting local suppliers Tshwane could make a contribution to job creation and skills development.
Sam Jewaskiewitz, president of the IWMSA, and various other business people in the waste management industry have cast doubt on the statement that the service would cost the council nothing. “Nothing is free,” said one who wished to remain anonymous as he regularly worked with the Metro Council.
Jewaskiewitz said by accepting the tender the Metro Council could sign away a future possible source of income for the city derived from the sale of electricity and carbon credits.
He said it was impossible to judge whether the Korean offer was fair in terms of the 30-year period or its financial aspects, as Tshwane's notification had been vague and meaningless.
Comments had been requested, but it was impossible to comment meaningfully without further details, he said.
The IWMSA asked that the notice, which deviates totally from prescribed tender procedures, be withdrawn and for the council to follow formal tender procedures.
Jewaskiewitz said that the council's recent response had been to thank him for his letter and to say that he would be consulted if more information was required.
Sake24 understands that five or six companies have objected to the tender. At least one has been told to bring a counter-proposal within seven days.
That is hopelessly too little time and, again, a deviation from prescribed procedure.
Tshwane did not respond to Sake24’s questions on the issue. Sake24 wanted to know, among other things, the names of members of the consortium. The Metro Council had however remained silent.
Jewaskiewitz said Sudokwon was well known for its large plants outside Seoul, the capital of South Korea. “It is a big plant but it does not have unique technology,” he said.
IWMSA members have already erected and operated several such plants in South Africa and other countries.
Jewaskiewitz said there was still no indication that Tshwane would renounce its intentions, and that some IWMSA members had resolved to fight acceptance of the tender in court.