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    Still in the running...................

    "4/03/2007 19:44 - (SA)
    Thales bids for Gautrain fares
    MALOSA MONAMA

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    Tainted French defence and electronic systems giant, Thales, is shortlisted for a lucrative contract in the multibillion-rand Gautrain Rapid Rail Link project.

    Thales, a multinational conglomerate formerly known as Thomson-CSF that is now known in South Africa as Thint, gained notoriety here for its involvement in the country’s arms procurement deal.

    City Press has reliably learnt that Thales is one of three companies still vying for the electronic ticketing system (Automatic Fare Collection) contract for Gautrain, said to be worth R100 million.

    The other horses still in the race are Titima, an SA/Singapore consortium, and the ERG Group, the American developer and supplier of integrated fare management and software systems for the transit indus try.

    Thales, which is believed to be the frontrunner for the contract, has recently strengthened its transportation and security services division by acquiring the transportation and security services business of Alcatel-Lucent.

    A press statement on the company website, issued last month, said the agreement aimed at strengthening the cooperation between Thales and Alcatel-Lucent by developing the synergies between the two groups in terms of technologies, systems and international presence – both industrial and commercial.

    “The assets contributed by Alcatel-Lucent in January 2007 include its world-leading rail signalling activities, as well as the entirety of its solutions and integrated systems for the security of critical infrastructure activities,” the statement read in part.

    A follow-up release announced the launch of Thales’ e-Transactions business line, a provider of secure card payment solutions.

    It said it had launched a new software application for the Artema Mobile terminal to enable electronic payment in taxis, developed in partnership with TeleCash, a provider of cashless payment services.

    “The application means that passengers no longer have to worry about carrying sufficient cash when taking a taxi and are automatically provided with a printed receipt.”

    The Gauteng provincial government, on whose behalf Gautrain is being constructed, has said it intended to integrate Gautrain into the other modes of public transport, with a uniform fare collection system.

    Thales, whose dealings in the SA arms deal led to the conviction of Schabir Shaik on charges of fraud and corruption, has previously been accused by one of its former executives of organising a centralised slush fund to bribe and corrupt officials in order to win contracts.

    The company issued a formal denial of the story, stressing that Michel Josserand, former head of Thales’ engineering and consulting unit, had been sacked for his involvement in “irregularities”.

    Thales employs 60 000 people in 50 countries and generated revenues of €10.3 billion in 2005 (R98 billion) and had an order book of €20 billion (R175 billion).

    Attempts at getting comment from Thales were unsuccessful.

    Gautrain concessionaire Bombela was also not able to comment until tomorrow, when it expects to hear from the operations and maintenance unit which is handling the tender adjudication process.

    Bombela spokesperson Yolisa Tyantsi said her office was not responsible for procurements.

    Gautrain spokesperson Barbara Jensen referred all enquiries to the Bombela office.
 
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