R300m spent on the ‘city’s Nkandla’

No funds for de­sali­na­tion?

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - NEWS - BULELWA PAYI

THE City of Cape Town has spent more than R300 mil­lion in just un­der three years in up­grades to de­pots as part of a project dubbed by work­ers as the city’s “Nkandla” be­cause the work has been go­ing on for a long time.

Sources claimed that al­though the De­pot Re­align­ment Project (DPR) was started with good in­ten­tions, it was now be­ing used as a “blank cheque” for end­less ren­o­va­tions that were ran­domly car­ried out to build­ings used by Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion staff.

The source also voiced con­cern that the project was be­ing man­aged by the Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion De­part­ment even though the city had a fa­cil­i­ties man­age­ment de­part­ment whose man­date was to take care of fa­cil­i­ties.

Ren­o­va­tion work to some of the de­pots across the city in­cluded paint­work, paving, build­ing al­ter­ations and pro­vi­sion of ablu­tion fa­cil­i­ties.

The South African Mu­nic­i­pal Work­ers’ Union (Samwu) said de­spite the huge amount of money that had been spent over the past two years, work­ing con­di­tions for some of the work­ers had still not im­proved.

Samwu spokeper­son Mzu­vuk­ile Maswana said the DPR was started a few years ago af­ter the in­ter­ven­tion of mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille who was moved by the “ap­palling” con­di­tions of the work­ers’ con­di­tions.

Pre­vi­ously, man­age­ment al­legedly told the union that there were no avail­able funds to im­prove con­di­tions.

The ren­o­va­tion work is be­ing car­ried out through a ten­der process, which the source al­leged was way above mar­ket-re­lated rates, lead­ing to work­ers dub­bing it the “city’s Nkandla”.

Maswana said while some staff at the Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion De­part­ment were pre­par­ing to move to a new build­ing in Bel­lville, which cost the city more than R300m and spent a fur­ther R70m in ac­quir­ing an­other in Sacks Cir­cle, also in Bel­lville, lit­tle re­gard was given to the more than 250 work­ers in the de­part­ment.

Dur­ing the 2016/2017 fi­nan­cial year, the Wa­ter and San­i­ta­tion De­part­ment al­legedly spent over R1 bil­lion on “non -crit­i­cal” wa­ter re­lated projects.

These in­cluded the pur­chase of diesel gen­er­a­tors as back-up power sup­ply, con­struc­tion of the new head of­fice for some se­nior staff, ac­qui­si­tion of and ren­o­va­tions to the build­ing in Sacks Cir­cle and pur­chase of new fur­ni­ture.

“The city said it had no money for the key wa­ter projects such as de­sali­na­tion but if you take into con­sid­er­a­tion what they have been spend­ing on in one fi­nan­cial year alone dur­ing the drought, money is not the is­sue,” he added.

May­oral Com­mit­tee Mem­ber for Wa­ter and Waste Ser­vices, Xanthea Lim­berg, said the de­pots were main­tained on a con­tin­u­ous ba­sis. “Re­fur­bish­ing and up­grad­ing of the de­pots is done via cap­i­tal projects from time to time. This could oc­cur when the pur­pose of the de­pot changes; if the ca­pac­ity of staff and, or the de­pots’ func­tions change; or when the de­gree of in­fra­struc­ture de­te­ri­o­ra­tion due to age or wear and tear re­quires it,” Lim­berg said.

She said pro­vi­sion for such work was made in the bud­get each year..

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