Questionable EMLM tender processes leave project in limbo
The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality’s (EMLM) tender processes have been found wanting yet again and unfortunately Ezibeleni residents are the ones to suffer most.
The embattled municipality is in hot water once again following a damning court judgment against its multimillion rand Fikile Gwadana Drive road rehabilitation project in Ezibeleni.
The high court in Makhanda ruled recently that procurement processes followed in awarding the tender were not transparent and the costs thereof were astronomical. To mention just a few discrepancies, two different amounts of R68m and R99m were mentioned in two reports filed in court as the estimated total cost of the project. The reports also referred to two road lengths of 6.8km and 9.9km. Understandably, these figures and a number of other inconsistencies left the judge baffled.
In the end the judge granted an interdict, effectively putting the project on hold pending a review application. This was to allow a Komani political party The Independents and the Eastern Cape Black Contractors’ Forum, to file their court application to review and set aside the tender.
They claim, among other things, that the municipal manager Nokuthula Zondani had no powers to approve the tender as the municipality was under administration at the time.
Thisa is the second major project in which EMLM’s tender processes have been called into question. Investigations are still ongoing to determine whether a sports stadium out in Lesseyton was truly worth the R15m the municipality proudly declared it cost earlier this year.
Ezibeleni residents, meanwhile, are asking for the answers. The Independent Komani Residents’ Association, for one, wants the EMLM to account. “We ... request our local authority to ... afford our community clarity on these [Fikile Gwadana tender and judgment] fronts. How did we get here? Where to from here? What is next and what will it take to restart the project and how long will it take for it to restart?”
Tthe whole saga is a major setback for the locals. It is not clear what will happen to those who were employed on the project considering that the court also ordered the municipality to withhold any payments to the contractor, Makali Construction (Pty) Ltd.
The court gave the Independents and the contractors’ forum 30 days to file their review application.
Until that process has been exhausted, Ezibeleni residents, like those of Lesseyton, will unfortunately have to play the waiting game.