Controversial Trizon lease to be cancelled

2011-07-27 00:00

THE KZN Health Department wants its controversial Trizon Towers lease cancelled.

The building is being checked for whether it will provide suitable office space for the Human Settlements Department.

This was confirmed yesterday by both Public Works (PWD) and Human Settlements, responding to a report headlined “PMB’s lease scandal” in yesterday’s Witness.

An acting spokesperson for the departments, Sureshinee Govender, said the Health Department had requested the cancellation of the lease for Trizon Towers.

The National Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), which has long pushed for the lease to be terminated, says this confirms its allegation that the building was never needed in the first place.

Nehawu regional secretary Khaye Nkwanyana said yesterday the R2,5 million monthly rental, one of the most costly contracts in the city, can be considered fruitless expenditure.

He said there still needs to be a probe as to what needs analysis motivated the then head of the Health Department, Dr Busi Nyembezi, to push for the lease of the building.

“There was no congestion at the original office, Natalia, and certain floors were left vacant after the move.”

Nkwanyana said Nehawu believes there were officials at the time who benefited from the Trizon lease and that the contract needs to be investigated rather than extended.

Talk that Human Settlements was to move to Trizon Towers started circulating shortly after two tenders asking for office space for the department were advertised and then cancelled.

When first contacted, the PWD, which oversees the rental of office space for all government departments, did not deny nor confirm the move.

However, Govender said yesterday the relocation of Human Settlements to Trizon Towers is still under investigation.

As for the issue of two cancelled tenders, Govender said there have not been two tenders for the same lease and there has been no cancellation of tenders.

She said the two tenders were for different leases — one for a regional office for Human Settlements and the other for a head office.

On the bid for regional office space, she said, “The needs for the Human Settlements regional office accommodation was approved by the regional office planning action committee and advertised.

“No responsive bidders were received.

“The matter was re-advertised for the second time as the initial attempt received an appeal and the decision of the Appeal Tribunal was to re-advertise.

“The bids for the regional office were re-advertised [again] and there were no responsive bidders.

“The needs will be re-advertised.”

Govender added, “The need for the Human Settlements head office was advertised but there were no responsive bidders.

“However, there was a complaint lodged by one of the bidders, which resulted in the matter being taken over by head office.

“A special bid evaluation committee [BEC] was set up to relook at all bids.

“The recommendation by the special BEC was for head office real estate to look at the suitable state buildings as an option prior to re-advertisement … there was no cancellation of bids.

“There are no suitable state buildings which can accommodate Human Settlements as the need is approximately for 10 000 square metres.”

The Democratic Alliance in KZN has called on provincial executives to act immediately and comprehensively investigate all lease agreements brokered by the KZN PWD.

DA MPP Johann Krog said, “Most damning is the claim by tender bidders that a senior official with the PWD, who manages leases and rentals, has a brother who has business ties with one of the owners of Trizon Towers.”

Krog said the department is a breeding ground for corruption, with allegations rife of nepotism and backhanders.

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