Blantyre City Council clings to defrauder

Blantyre City Council (BCC) management is continuing doing business with a contractor who reportedly defrauded it close to K3 million in three weeks, Nyasa Times has learnt.

This is despite a recommendation from its internal auditor to terminate the contract with Madson Holdings Limited for breach of contract and mistrust in its dealings.

BCC awarded Madison Private Holdings a three year contract to be collecting traffic management fees (parking fees) in Blantyre Central Business District (CBD) but barely a month the company tricked the council.

Previously, the Engineering Department of BCC used to administer the collection of traffic management fees before new Chief Executive Officer Ted Nandolo  sub-contracted Madison.

Nandolo: Defrauder still has contract

Under their contract, which started last August and is subjected to review every year, Madson is supposed to buy receipt books from the Council.

But the company only purchased the receipt books its first month of the contract and then it dubiously started printing elsewhere, according to our source from the BCC Treasury Department.

According to the source, on average Madson was purchasing 100 books of 50 receipts each per day. Each receipt book costs K1400 translating into K840 000 a week (Monday to Saturday).

The company stayed for three full weeks without buying the books from BCC, a development that made BCC suspicious.

After noting this, BCC sent a team of security personnel, auditors and engineers into the streets where they uncovered different receipt books but still bearing Council logo.

“The team confiscated all the books in the streets and upon searching at their office several cartoons of the fake books were also discovered,” said the source who was part of the team.

He said the matter was reported to Blantyre Police Station who moved in to arrest the company’s Operations Manager, a Mr. Malikebu and also interrogated Madson’s managing director, BCC Deputy Director of Administration Robert Grevulo (who was mentioned in the scam) and Grevulo’s young brother Mr. Mpopo, also an employee of Madson.

The confiscated cartons of fake receipt books are still in the custody of Blantyre Police. And after the incidence, the contractor resumed buying the ticket books from BCC.

BCC receipt books are produced by the Council’s Printing Department and the special features that are put on them are only known by the head of printing, a Mr. Tandaude, according to our source.

However, what is surprising the council’s employees is that since the scam happened almost two months now, council management has not yet terminated contract for the company which is against auditors’ recommendation.

“In the first place, there are some unanswered questions as regards to the way Madson was awarded the contract. Now, there is this high profile case and management is not showing any interest to act, there is certainly some dirty work going on,” said the source from the Engineering Department.

“Defrauding the council and still offering services and yet the swindled money was not even recovered. This is lamentable and yet when a member of staff has a case with police, no matter how minor it may be, he is immediately suspended pending outcome of the trial,” he added.

The source said some junior members of staff have been trying to make follow ups but their efforts are just being thwarted because they do not have support of the management.

“This is a cross cutting issue. The finance directorate gets the payment, the administration directorate prints the receipts and engineering directorate supervises the traffic management but no single director or assistant is concerned with the issue,” he said adding that even the security officer at no time has taken interest.

Meanwhile, Nyasa Times has learnt that the company was printing the fake receipt books at an unknown printer in Lilongwe and the wife of Madson managing director was the one responsible for the task.

This was revealed after the company fired its Operations Director (Mr. Malikebu) and Mr. Mpopo following their connection to the matter.

The two have since threatened to reveal more of the syndicate behind the fake receipt books and all other shady deals the company has been doing with some BCC employees to defraud the Council.

After Madson Holdings was awarded the contract it hiked the traffic management fees per vehicle from K20 to K50.

There was commotion in Blantyre CBD early August when most motorists quarreled with Madson’s workers over the hiked parking charges which was done without notice.

However, the Council chief executive officer defended the move in the media saying the contractor had the mandate to decide how much motorists must pay.

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