DTRS upbeat on reclaiming MALTIS

Cars parked in Blantyre CBD

The Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) says the country is making efforts to have the Malawi Traffic Information System (MALTIS) system handed over to it citing the several engagements it has had with the consultant in its quest to get it back.

It was learnt during an interface with the Parliamentary Committee on transport and public infrastructure that the contract which was signed in 2014 was in 2015 forced to roll out despite it not being ready due to some gaps which existed then.

The system was supposed to be handed over to the Malawi government in 2017, but to date, this has not happened.

DRTSS Director Andrew Sandula said being a contractual issue; the matter was referred to the office of the Attorney General for his guidance.

In a dramatic turn of events, the consultant Fischer MOVESA Consortium distanced itself, relocated and is controlling the system remotely from South Africa which has created problems with the Department.

However the servers are still in Malawi and the Director indicated that from what was agreed upon in April this year, there is some progress as officers have gained some skills from the training by the consultant although not to the expected levels.

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Some of the members of the DRTSS delegation 

The system was developed in such a way that it should accommodate different models of equipment and it also applies to eye testing machines and biometric capturing equipment and others to be integrated to any model of equipment.

On the part of vehicle testing equipment, he said it was therefore not proper for government to identify just one model and force every supplier to use it.

He nonetheless was upbeat on prospects of Malawi taking control of the system soon.

DRTSS developed a training plan in South Africa in April and the consultant is implementing the same.

One of the issues is to do with outstanding modules which the latest version developed and it’s being tested by its officers trying to check if the gaps in the system have been rectified.

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Sandula (In black suit): We are in the process of getting the system back

“So by doing that, its part of system handover but our observation as government is that the process is slower than expected but we are in the process of getting the system back.

“There were a number of issues contractual issues which can ably be responded by the Ministry but at technical level as DRTSS, we noted that the system had some gaps in terms of some modules which were supposed to be delivered according to the contract but they may be also some contractual issues which may be handled by Ministry of transport and Public works”.

In the project management of the MALTIS, there is also a technical team working hand in hand at the technical level, the consultant engages with the road traffic but when it comes to traffic management; the consultant works with Ministry of  Transport and public works.

Some of the issues tabled during the discussion were on the issuance of Certificate of fitness (COF) by private vehicle inspection operators following a complaint it received from members of Vehicle inspection association.

One of the complainants was disconnected from COF services and the Directorate was not able to resolve the issue.

Another was not being able to connect to the system despite being given a licence to be issuing COFs hence the matters were referred to the Committee mandated to oversee issues in the transport sector.

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The two sides captured during the interface

During the interface, DRTSS admitted things are not well as by now the system should have been handed over to government, but a cloud of uncertainty hangs on when this will be done remains.

One of its IT officers Sasha Miteche  explained that with the system in South Africa, there is a high risk that people working with the consultant might do transactions as they are in control. "We cannot see who goes into the system and they access anything".

Committee Chairperson Uchizi Mkandawire described the meeting as fruitful as it accorded them chance to solicit more information on the matter and will be engaging the Ministry of Transport to get more details on how the system is being managed to map the way forward.

He expressed worry of it being abused as it’s in the hands of other people who can connive with the consultant and start producing documents like licences and COF.

 “Basically we have a system that we are operating, but it doesn’t belong to the Malawi government and the owner, the one who developed the system the consultant that’s MOVESA Fischer Consortium they may decide to shut down the system anytime they want because they have got all the rights; they have got all the control of the servers and everything.

“As a Committee, we are indeed worried that unless something happens, government engages the consultant and they manage to actually force the consultant to handover the system to the government. But the way things are; we don’t own this system as government because it is still being controlled by the consultant.

“So the way forward is that they are government institutions that are being engaged and involved like the office of the Attorney General to see how we can see this system handed over to government because it’s long overdue”.