Non-pay­ment of sub­con­trac­tors

The Mercury - - NEWS - Bheki Mban­jwa

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.

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