YOU can never have too much security, they say, but United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) is facing a unique problem after two security companies pitched to guard the complex.
The dilemma started after Home Guard Security’s contract expired and Cobra Security Services assumed duties, but the latter company has said it is not going anywhere.
On Wednesday guards from the two companies were deployed at the same premises, with each sending guards to man the boom gate at the entrance leading up to the hospital.
To add to the confusion, after Cobra Security was awarded the contract, it was accused of charging below the prescribed rates.
Another security company, Nokel, realising the stand-off, made representation to the Administrative Court, resulting in the hospital reversing its offer and reverting to the previous service provider, the Home Guard Services, until the matter is resolved.
According to court papers, Nokel, an interested party, said Cobra violated the law by offering low charges.
“The basis upon which this application is premised is that the third respondent (Cobra Security) violated the law by undercharging and for that matter it cannot be allowed to benefit from an illegality by doing work for the second respondent (the Health and Child Care ministry, which administers UBH) and receive payment,” read the court papers.
The State Procurement Board is cited as first respondent.
Nokel submitted that the minimum a company could charge for offering services to the hospital was $299 184, but Cobra had charged $236 973, which is below the prescribed rate.
In a letter to Cobra Security, UBH chief executive officer Nobuhle Ndlovu said the new contract would be suspended until the finalisation of the matter.
“While we are not privy to the grounds of appeal by Nokel Security and we are consulting our legal advisors, we wish to draw your attention to the fact that the operation of the contract, which you were supposed to sign, will remain suspended,” the letter gleaned by Southern Eye reads.
“In our view and the view of our board, the provision of security and CIT services at United Bulawayo Hospitals will continue to be provided by Home Guard Services until the issue is resolved.
“In the meantime, we request you to withdraw your guards with immediate effect until further notice.”
Ndlovu said they were not liable to pay Cobra if the company insisted on deploying its guards.