Sparks fly at Umdoni Council meeting

2010-12-15 00:00

ONE of the most heated debates of the year was held at the Umdoni Council’s last general meeting of 2010 on Wednesday last week.

It ended only after the councillors agreed that it is up to them to sort out the “unacceptable record” of poor project management as soon as possible.

The subject was triggered by a mild question from Ward 3 councillor Mala Moodley as to when the Ghandinagar sports field might reasonably be expected to be in use.

The sports field was originally scheduled for completion by May 2010.

This unleashed a wave of pent-up frustration.

The point was made repeatedly by individual councillors, the mayor and the deputy mayor, that failed projects are an embarrassment that has to be addressed, even if heads are to roll.

The Ghandinagar sports complex is one of a number of projects not completed on time or poorly constructed.

Among the others are public ablution blocks and buildings, street upgrades and drainage.

It was acknowledged that the Ghandinagar contract was due for completion in May 2010 and a hand-over ceremony was set up at that stage by the project manager concerned.

Moodley was present at the ceremony.

After three hours and severalphone calls, the project manager failed to pitch and everybody went home.

Moodley reported these facts to council management and has since raised queries at subsequent meetings as to why the situation remains unresolved.

On Wednesday, her question struck home. Other councillors took issue and a blame-game ensued.

The mayor commented that “you can’t leave a contractor or a consultant unsupervised”.

“None of us has taken the trouble to physically inspect this or most other contracts.”

Contradicting himself, he added, “I have taken the trouble and I have harped on about monitoring contracts.”

Deputy Mayor Sykes Naidoo said the impression is being created that the contract has been abandoned. He added, “We are in a state of denial. Let’s live in a world of reality.”

The municipal manager, D.D. Naidoo, agreed that the situation “is not good enough. If people are not performing, we have to react.”

However, he cautioned against precipitate action, saying it is wrong to criticise junior management without going through the head of the department.

“We must get all the facts and then deal with it,” Naidoo said.

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