Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sentech accused of bungling GautengOnline

Business Data Solutions accuses state-owned Sentech of mishandling the project, of racism and trying to poach staff.
A former GautengOnline subcontractor, Business Data Solutions (BDS), has accused state-owned Sentech of mishandling the project, of racism and trying to poach staff.
BDS, which says it will now have to retrench staff, has withdrawn a High Court application to be reinstated in the project on advice from its lawyers, but is investigating further legal action.
Sentech has dismissed BDS's claims as "sensationalist" and inaccurate.
BDS MD Nathan Momsen alleges Sentech cancelled its contract with the company "for no apparent reason" after BDS struggled to fulfil its obligations of establishing a contact centre in the northern part of Johannesburg to support the roll-out of the project to connect about 1,000 schools in the province.
He claims a little-known white-owned firm, m-Path, has replaced his company, which is black-owned and has "extensive experience" in the education field, including winning the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Award.
Sentech, however, disputes Momsen's allegations.
"Sentech was forced to terminate the BDS relationship due to performance issues, which are not related to either BEE or any other matter raised by BDS," says Piet Havenga, Sentech's executive for project management and quality assurance.
"We had to take action after we had tried to rectify the matter of BDS's performance over a long period, but delivery of quality service and looking after the needs of our customers is vital."

'White elephant'
Momsen alleges the R500 million GautengOnline project is a "white elephant" due to non-delivery of full Internet connectivity for all computers in the schools as well as e-mail provisioning for 1.5 million learners and 63,000 teachers.
Gauteng Department of Education CIO Tom Waspe disputes this characterisation of the project and says that while there are problems, they are being sorted out.
Among other things, Momsen alleges that Sentech never fulfilled its obligations in supplying the necessary satellite bandwidth, which made remote support all but impossible.
Momsen also claims that once he began to point out the problems, Sentech did not follow accepted black economic empowerment guidelines of paying a subcontractor within 15 days of invoice.

Untested statements
Because BDS has now lost its contract, it will have to retrench 23 staff, all of which, bar one, are black, says Momsen.
He withdrew a High Court application to be reinstated in the project on advice from his lawyers, who said Sentech was using delaying tactics, and is now considering further legal action, he adds.
"There are several inaccuracies in the BDS press release, which is sensationalist and comes against the backdrop of BDS having failed in its urgent interdict to have the relationship between Sentech and BDS reinstated," says Sentech COO Gladwyn Marumo."

Insufficient bandwidth? Sentech? It's never happened before, has it?

From MyADSL: Broadband Internet Community, quoting ITWeb, 30 November 2005. See another article on GautengOnline for an insight into the planning.

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