Contractors at odds over R31m roads project

EMLM troika with from left, speaker Bongiwe van Heerden, mayor Luleka Gubula and whip Nombuyiselo Ndlebe Picture: ANDISA BONANI

Komani contractors are at loggerheads about a R31m roads refurbishment project in Queendustria by the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), whose sub-contractor selection process is said to be botched.

The Enoch Mgijima Local Municipality portfolio heads for technical services and local economic development met local contractors, including members of the Enoch Mgijima business and contractors forums to iron out issues.

The major concerns are related to the selection process of sub-contractors, an outdated database which was allegedly used to select sub-contractors, and the formation of a project steering committee which would oversee the selection process of sub-contractors.

Portfolio head for technical services Noluthando Nqabisa said the meeting was held to ensure that local contractors benefitted from national projects in their area by 30% of the contract value as stipulated by public works policies.

We also wanted to iron out issues pertaining to the affiliation of forums, that business people will not be excluded from getting jobs if they are not members of existing forums. In the case that they are, for us to ensure there is no victimisation.

We understand there are contractors who are already employed in the project, but we learned the database from which they were selected was outdated. There were also rumours of undue influence from officials and we highly condemn such conduct if it true. Queendustria is a hub to develop that area, and the project runs in phases. For this particular phase and project, R31m was sourced by our district agency in Chris Hani. Other projects which include the building of factories will unfold in due course.”

Nqabisa called on all contractors to go to the town hall on Monday when a new database will be collated.

Local economic development (LED) manager Nkosi Mzileni said the problems around the project in Queendustria would not have happened had the contractors joined the Enoch Mgijima Local Business Forum.

A forum creates a conducive environment so that when there is an investor, everyone in business can speak with one voice. The sub-contractors working there were selected through a steering committee that does not consist of all parties required. The current committee needs to be beefed up with people with knowledge about such things and who are capacitated to do the work required from them.”

Enoch Mgijima Local Business Forum secretary Sakhile Mvana said they learned about the challenges in the DBSA project informally, but decided to intervene nonetheless.

We organised a meeting with the contractors’ forum so we may understand the gist of the problem. However, the meeting was not successful. We are a recently-elected structure and had issues with the business forum which stem from past experiences that needed to be ironed out first.

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