R6 500 to fix an open toilet

2011-11-12 19:20

The cost of rebuilding or enclosing each of the toilets in Rammulotsi township, in Viljoenskroon in the Free State, is R6 500.

The Viljoenskroon open toilet saga made national headlines earlier this year just before the local government elections, when the DA lodged a complaint with the South African Human Rights Commission about 1 600 open toilets in the township. It was later found that the toilets were built by a company of which then mayor, Mantebu Mokgosi, was a director.

Mike Lelaka, technical manager of the Moqhaka municipality (which includes Viljoenskroon), this week said: “What’s wrong with that? The price did not only include enclosing the toilets. Some needed roofs, top connection and rubble which needed removal”.

When City Press explained that two independent building contractors had quoted R3 500 to do the same job, his response was: “I would not know about that. Did they take into account escalating prices as well?”

Lelaka denied allegations that municipal officers were in any way involved in the companies that won the tenders for the project.

He said the municipality had followed proper tender procedures. According to Moqhaka municipality tender documents in the possession of City Press, it cost the municipality almost R6 million to enclose or rebuild the toilets.

The document shows that:
» Lohan Civils was paid R1.3 million for “closing of 200 top structures at Rammulotsi”;
» Jore Construction was paid R2 million for the closing of 320 top structures, and
» Dilemopume was paid R2.6 million for “construction of toilet top structures on existing slabs”.

City Press spoke to building constructor Sheldon Ogle, who has been in the construction business for 11 years, about how much it would cost to enclose or rebuild a toilet.

“I saw the toilets in Viljoenskroon that needed to be enclosed and that would cost approximately R1 800 (per toilet). A whole new structure is going to be approximately R3 500,” said Ogle.

His quotation included a toilet door (R500), bricks to build three walls (R1 500), roof (R300) and a toilet unit (R600). The rest of the R3 500 would then go towards cement and labour.

The DA has now asked Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to investigate the awarding of the tenders for the enclosing of the toilets.

Lelaka has admitted that the municipality went ahead with the project although it did not have enough money.
“We are in negotiation with the provincial department of human settlement and the Development Bank of South Africa to assist us,” he said.

Lelaka said a rough estimate of the total project cost was about R14 million.

Senne Bogatsu, spokesperson for the provincial department of human settlement, said the department had set aside R2 million to enclose the toilets. She said the money had not yet been paid over to the Moqhaka municipality.

Lelaka said the municipality did regular inspections and “found only one toilet that had to be rebuilt”.

Bogatsu said the department would send inspectors to the site to evaluate the structures.

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