Durban – CONTRACTORS have been warned by eThekwini Municipality to stop using underhand practices to conduct unauthorised work on ablution facilities in informal settlements across the city to solicit payment from the council.
Opposition political parties have called for officials’ heads to roll at the municipality after the city issued a statement warning contractors to stop unauthorised work, saying such practices were a violation of supply chain management (SCM) processes.
A senior municipal employee, who has knowledge of the city processes, said they believed ward councillors eager to spread political patronage were behind the practice, but that further investigations would identify the culprits.
EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said yesterday that the city’s water and sanitation department had been flooded with reports that contractors were conducting unauthorised repairs to showers, taps and toilets at the city’s containerised ablution facilities in Inanda, Ntuzuma, uMlazi, Cato Manor and other informal settlements.
He warned that contractors involved in the illegal refurbishments should stop the work immediately.
“EThekwini Municipality wishes to inform members of the public about illegal refurbishment work of the city’s ablution facilities reported to be currently under way in some wards.
“The city is inundated with reports of contractors that are hard at work refurbishing the city’s ablution facilities in various informal settlements without being authorised,” Mayisela said.
He said the city had previously had problems where contractors had marched on city hall in a bid to force its hand to pay for unauthorised jobs.
However, he said the city would not pay any contractor who did not have a purchase order in line with its SCM rules ahead of conducting repair work.
“The municipality has an SCM policy where it is stipulated that appointed service providers would receive an official order and an appointment letter before commencing with any work,” he said.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said the city’s warning to contractors was nothing but “a talk show” as it had not indicated any consequences for city officials who were alleged to be involved in exchange for kickbacks.
“It is not that this thing just happened this year. It has been happening for quite a long time and we have been questioning the ANC, asking how come contractors can start a project without the authority of the municipality? It is a talk show because they are alerting the contractors that they are not going to be paid, but what about the officials that were allegedly involved?
“There is no service provider that can maintain the ablutions without being given authority. Those officials must be brought to book because at the end of the day it leads to irregular expenditure of taxpayers’ money. If you abuse taxpayers money you must go to jail or pay back the money,” Nkosi said.
DA leader in eThekwini Nicole Graham said she was unaware of the problem of unauthorised work being done to the ablutions.
“Those ablution facilities are supposed to have management systems and surely if there are people doing work refurbishing them, we should know about it and be able to stop it,” she said.
Federation for Radical Economic Transformation spokesperson Robert Ndlela distanced his organisation and its members from the firms allegedly conducting unauthorised work. He said he was unaware of the problem the city was facing.
“We have been pushing for quite some time for the city to pay what they owe contractors but all the contractors we are pushing for had contracts. All those contractors were legal and some of them were sub-contractors to main contractors,” Ndlela said.
He said contracts should be awarded in line with the law which should reflect the government’s policy of Radical Economic Transformation.
Ndlela said some members were obtaining legal work from the city, but others still felt shut out when it came to the SCM process.
“SMMEs (small, medium, micro enterprises) who form part of our constituency feel the procurement model of the city does not open up enough space for small businesses to participate. We do believe more needs to be done so we can see transformation to that effect.”