Non-payment of subcontractors
THE eThekwini municipality says it will enlist the assistance of the police to ensure that refuse collection resumes in uMlazi and other townships north of the city.
This is after Durban Solid Waste (DSW) employees were held hostage, others attacked and vehicles stoned earlier this week leading to waste collection being halted because of the “hostile environment”.
“uMlazi could not be serviced due to the hostile environment, with our staff held hostage in a garden refuse site at V Section, and one of our trucks stoned on Tuesday,” said Mandla Nsele, the municipality’s spokesperson.
Refuse collection stopped again in uMlazi and other townships this week.
On Tuesday, sub-contractors tasked with refuse removal stopped work and rubbish was strewn on some roads in the township, as the subcontractors protested because they had not received payment.
A city official with knowledge of the situation said areas affected included uMlazi, KwaMashu and Ntuzuma, and that some of the subcontractors had not been paid since April.
Nsele said that in other areas where there was “stability” the municipality had been able to resume the service using internal staff members.
A subcontractor who spoke to The Mercury on condition of anonymity said this week that no work would go ahead in uMlazi as they had not been paid for two months.
“We have been told there is no money to pay us. Nothing will move until we have been paid,” said the businessman.
Asked about this, the municipality said it had paid all contractors for work it had verified, but payment of sub-contractors fell outside its scope.
The waste removal contract has been mired in controversy from the start. The contract, awarded to four main contractors, was approved in December last year and a total of R45 million was budgeted for the contract. However, this was soon depleted as some of the contractors were allegedly over-billing the city.
One of the contractors told The Mercury that they denied allegations that they had overbilled the municipality, claiming that there had been more work than anticipated.
Towards the end of last month, DSW approached the city’s executive committee (Exco) asking for the value of the contract to be increased to R130 million (excluding VAT).
This meant that the city had to find an additional budget of more than R90 million to fund the shortfall. At the time DSW said the original R45m budget estimate had been based on the contract running for three months, however, the Bid Adjudication Committee had approved the contract to run for six months, without the cost being adjusted.
The contract comes to an end this month, but it is not clear what will happen next. The Mercury posed this question to the city’s communication unit, but no response was given.