By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Reolian, one of the companies besides Transmac whose bid has been accepted for the public tender to operate Macau’s public bus services starting October 15, hopes that the government can push back the schedule and freeze all the tender work, until the court can decide whether or not TCM will win the battle. However, the Transport Bureau (DSAT) seems to be quite determined to liberalise the bus service market in mid-October.
Project director of Veolia, Cedric Rigaud, told Portuguese newspaper Ponto Final that if the Court of Second Instance is going to spend a long time handing down the judgement, they may not have enough time to prepare for the operation before October 15.
Reolian is a new joint venture of French-based Veolia Transportation and H. Nolasco & Cia., Lda. from Macau.
Transmac declined to give any comments when contacted by the Macau Daily Times.
Managing director of TCM José Neves also could not be reached yesterday.
According to Ponto Final, Rigaud said Reolian preferred DSAT to postpone the bus service liberalisation date and renew the existing contracts with Transmac and TCM for some more time.
The government’s plan is to open the bus service market to more operators after the current two concession contracts expire on October 14, and also to divide all of Macau’s bus routes into five groups with each of the operator operating two or three groups.
“If the verdict is only known in September, it’ll be very difficult for Reolian and also Transmac to start the operations in October,” Rigaud said.
As such, he added that it could undermine the quality of the new bus service model.
More than half a year was passed since the public tender was closed on November 24, 2009, but DSAT still has not announced the formal result since there is another lawsuit between the SAR government and TCM concerning the “four-minutes-late” dispute pending at the Court of Second Instance.
The bid opening committee rejected TCM’s tender proposal on November 24 as it argued that the company was “four minutes late” in submitting the documents.
This court case will be influential to determine TCM’s fate in the future and whether or not the public tender has to be relaunched.
The Court of Final Appeal on May 14 unanimously handed down a verdict in favor of TCM that disregarded the Chief Executive’s decision made on December 19, 2009 to not accept TCM’s tender proposal.
However, this was not enough to say that TCM has already won the battle when the result of another court case is still unknown.
Rigaud told Ponto Final that he believed the chance for TCM to get back to the public tender was slim, as he said many people had witnessed that the company representatives only delivered the documents after the deadline at 5pm.
He also said that Reolian disagreed with the Court of Final Appeal’s judgement suggesting that it would be an “irreparable loss” to TCM if it could not join the public tender, because the company would be forced to shut down and dismiss the 380 employees which involved compensation of MOP22.7 million.
If Reolian is going to operate Macau’s public buses eventually, Rigaud said they will give priorities to hiring workers from TCM.
In addition, Rigaud said Reolian will need 800 to 900 staff if being granted three groups of bus routes to operate, or 500 to 600 employers if they get just two groups.
On the other hand, the media coordinator of DSAT told the MDTimes yesterday that the bureau has been carrying out legal analysis on issues “involving a lot of aspects” as a result of the Court of Final Appeal’s verdict last month, in order to find out what the government could do next.
When asked if postponing the bus service liberalisation date could be an option, the media coordinator said she wasn’t able to answer it at this stage. Yet, she stressed that DSAT is still working towards the “October 15 goal” and also giving the “biggest effort” to avoid any impact on the timetable.
After the legal analysis work is completed, she said the bureau will announce the results to the public.