The Rep

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.

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