River dredging drones on

2010-06-28 00:00

THE clock is ticking for the finalisation of the dredging of the Camps Drift canal and indications are that the contractors will not finish the work on time.

Two years ago, the Msunduzi Municipality awarded Dr Jabulani Mjwara the multi-million rand contract for the dredging of Camps Drift, where the annual Dusi canoe marathon starts.

The dredging is supposed to be completed by the end of June, but insiders have alleged that it is unlikely that more than 30% of the work will have been completed by then.

A few weeks ago, The Witness began receiving complaints from residents living in flats bordering the canal about the excessive noise from the non-stop, 24-hour dredging operation.

Ward councillor Judy Lawrence said the municipality sent Mjwara a letter late last week instructing him to stop operating at night, and since then no resident has complained to her.

Andrew Keys, speaking on behalf of the residents, told The Witness that “people are complaining bitterly” because the dredging is still carrying on at night.

“One man has cancer and can’t even sleep at night because his place overlooks the river. Something needs to be done because [Mjwara] is not abiding by the rules,” he said.

Keys said he has met Mjwara who has promised him that the dredging will take place only from 6.30 am until 6 pm daily, but on Thursday the drilling could be heard until 8 pm.

Speaking to The Witness, Mjwara denied that he had not been abiding by the rules. He said the last time the dredging took place for 24 hours a day was on June 4.

Mjwara said he had met the complainants and the ward councillor and they agreed that the dredging could only take place from 6 am until 10 pm.

“It worries me when people don’t speak facts … [because I] have abided by the agreement,” he said.

Asked to comment on claims that the dredging has been taking place 24 hours a day because he is rushing to get the job done before the end of June, as stipulated in the contract, Mjwara said: “I can’t comment on that too much.”

He said the main reason that the dredging is taking place 24 hours a day is that they have to work even harder to get the job done because of the filthy state of the river.

“As to when we finish, that’s between us and the municipality.

There was outrage when Mjwara was awarded the R12,8 million dredging contract two years ago. Questions were raised about how a former civil servant, who left one tier of government under a cloud because he allegedly did not do his job properly, ended up with a contract awarded by another tier of government.

Not only did Mjwara lack the technical expertise stipulated in the tender documents, but he was also still under investigation for alleged maladministration and financial mismanagement during his time as provincial head of the Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Department when he emerged as the preferred bidder.

The Msunduzi Municipality failed to respond by the time of going to print.

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