Msunduzi still not paying contractors

2012-05-08 00:00

CONTRACTORS who disconnect the electricity of residents in arrears say Msunduzi Municipality is not paying them properly.

Now they’re threatening to down tools as a last resort to avoid getting deeper in the red.

This could cost the municipality millions.

Some 42 people working for eight contractors claim that the municipality has fallen behind in payments for the past six to eight months.

Yesterday a group of them descended on The Witness offices complaining that their companies had been receiving late payments from the municipality since late last year.

“We are tired of this because we provide an essential service to the municipality, which enables the city to generate much needed revenue,” said one of the group leaders who did not wish to be named.

“We are going to down our tools until we get answers as to when we are going to get paid for the months of March and April.”

The companies affected are Cable Line Construction, CBS Electrical, ES Electrical, Gubela Trading, Oxy Electrical, Ukukhanya Electrical, Fast Aways Electrical and Highlight Electrical.

The source said the companies usually earned between R30 000 to R35 000 a month from the municipality.

One contractor which has double the number of employees receives around R50 000 to R68 000 a month.

The source said the contractors had to submit their invoices to the municipality by the third of each month.

“Our contract states that we will be paid on the last day of every month. All invoices were submitted in time,” he said.

He added that last Friday they were all shocked to learn that invoices of eight companies had been lost in the municipality’s creditors’ section.

They had to submit duplicates.

“We all use our own cars to do disconnections and reconnections,” the source said.

“If we are not paid, how are we expected to carry on functioning properly?” he asked.

Even small amounts, like R50 earned from the R700 consumers pay for reconnections, had not been honoured, he added.

The source questioned how he was expected to support his family.

“We are now constantly having to pay interest on our bills because of late payments.

“We want to know when are we going to get paid because this has been going for long a time now.”

He threatened that if the situation continued, the contractors and their workers would have to call on the MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, and Public Protector Thuli Madonsela to intervene.

“There was debt list to disconnect in Northdale today, but we have refused to do that job as a result of these non-payments,” he added.

Municipal manager Mxolisi Nkosi said the situation was regrettable.

“I was totally unaware of this.

“I would therefore recommend that they bring it to the attention of the chief financial officer and if they don’t get any joy from the CFO, then they come back to me.

“There is no reason why people should not be getting their money if they submitted their invoices on time and the job has been done.”

Nkosi said the law stated that if a company did a job for the municipality it should submit an invoice and wait 30 days for payment.

“If these contractors have not been paid, but they have done the job and submitted their invoices in time, then the municipality will be in breach of the law, which is what I am not prepared to be,” Nkosi said.

If members of his staff were breaking the law, he added, he needed to be informed so that necessary action could be taken.

• thobani.ngqulunga@witness.co.za

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