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Probe into stalled BCM housing project

FAR AWAY: Construction in Tsholomnqa has stalled Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA
FAR AWAY: Construction in Tsholomnqa has stalled Picture: SIBONGILE NGALWA
A Buffalo City housing project is under investigation.

A construction company was apparently given the multimillion-rand contract in a deviation from normal supply chain processes without council being informed.

During a recent council meeting, acting city manager Bob Naidoo presented a report noting that an investigation was being conducted by the directorate of human settlement “to establish the reasons for non-submission to the council agenda”.

However, unimpressed councillors have tasked the municipal public accounts committee (Mpac) to further investigate the circumstances surrounding the deviation of the tender, which was signed and approved by former acting city manager Nceba Ncunyana last year.

The project involves 25 Tsholomnqa villages and about 150 families who were left homeless when heavy storms left their houses damaged between 2009 and 2013.

The provincial department of human settlements left construction of the houses to BCM after a funding agreement was reached between the two in 2013. However, more than three years later, the metro is yet to complete the project. Instead, the houses are incomplete and the families still live in appalling conditions.

“The directorate of human settlement prepared a deviation report for submission to council and forwarded it to the office of the acting city manager for signature.

“The attached report received the attention of the acting city manager Mr Ncunyana,” said Naidoo.

“The report was approved on July 5 2016 for submission to council and delivered to the office of the acting head of human settlement on July 7. Unfortunately the report was never submitted at the July 2016 council meeting. The directorate of human settlement is investigating the matter to establish what went wrong,” Naidoo said.

Council was supposed to have been informed of the deviation in the same month it was approved.

Following Ncunyana’s approval for the deviation, Mazcon construction company was awarded the tender.

The company is currently building the houses in Tsholomnqa.

DA councillor Sue Bentley said: “What was the delay for nine months to report the deviation in council? We want to refer the deviation to Mpac to investigate the circumstances.”

EFF councillor Chumani Matiwane accused the acting human settlement head (then Sandile Booi and now Mthunzi Ngonyama) of incompetence and requested that Naidoo lead the investigation. “We are not comfortable with the department investigating itself,” said Matiwane.

ANC mayoral committee members Xolani Witbooi and Sindile Toni also called for an Mpac investigation.

Toni said: “We want consequence management. What action will be taken against the contractor too? In the next two months we want a progress report on the investigation.”

The tender was initially awarded in May 2015 to Themba Cartage and work commenced in July 2015.

However, the company “abandoned” the site in September 2015 when BCM refused to pay them “as their tax clearance certificate was no longer valid”.

“The municipality had engagements with the contractor in January 2016 but the contractor did not have a valid tax clearance certificate but promised to have the tax clearance certificate shortly as they have already had engagement with the South African Revenue Services (SARS),” Ncunyana wrote in the report that was not submitted in council last year. “The contract between the contractor and the municipality expired while the contractor had not yet submitted a valid tax clearance certificate.”

BCM spokesman Sibusiso Cindi said: “All the issues raised are being handled through internal structures of the council with intention of compiling a preliminary report for further investigation when necessary.” — mamelag@dispatch.co.za

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