R300m spent on the ‘city’s Nkandla’
No funds for desalination?
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..