ANC pushes contractor

2013-11-01 00:00

ANC councillors in the eThekwini municipality have used their majority vote to push through a decision to extend the contract to an engineering company working on their flagship housing project Cornubia.

Opposition parties on Wednesday abstained from voting on the contract awarded to Gralio Precast, citing previous criticism levelled at the company for sub-standard work in other housing projects and being named in the controversial Manase report.

The report said the company was awarded two irregular housing contracts in Hammonds Farm and Burbreeze. The company is owned by Shireen Annamalay, the wife of businessman Jay Singh, who himself won a lucrative tender to privatise the city’s fleet of buses in 2003. He bought the buses from the city for R70 million, and later sold the complete fleet, which had grown, back to them five years later for over R400 million when the project took a nose dive.

In the Hammonds farm housing project, 22 units had to be demolished because of poor workmanship.

Now council have approved the use of Section 116(3) of the Municipal Finance Management Act to allow Gralio Precast to complete the civil engineering job. Section 116 allows a company to continue with a project without its having to go to tender again.

In 2012, the company won a R22 million tender to lay access roads and provide bulk water for the first phase. They can now continue providing engineering services and erect the top structures for 350 homes. The balance of 292 units were subcontracted to two other companies. The initial cost of the project was about R142 million, but with the extension this will now escalate to R176 million.

In July, the company went to court to stop the awarding of a R122,8 million tender for the second phase of the project to another company. It secured an interim interdict from the Durban high court, allowing it to continue with the project.

City manager Sbu Sithole said seeking the council’s approval for the extension would eliminate potential irregular expenditure. “There are two other companies who meet the Construction Industry Development Board [CIDB] requirements and have adequate experience in high-rise construction working on the project. In this manner, more resources on site will result in increased delivery at minimal increased costs,” he said.

IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi accused the ANC councillors of abusing the public purse. “The Manase report was commissioned at the cost of R15 million and unearthed wrongdoing. But the ANC continues to give jobs to questionable companies. Sithole tried to explain the reason, but it does not add up.”

DA caucus leader Zwakele Mncwango concurred with Nkosi’s sentiment. He said there were investigations about Gralio’s work in other projects. “We could not vote for wrong things. The same company is in the Manase report for wrongdoings.”

The company’s spokesperson Pravesh Inderjeeth said he has no idea about the new development. “I prefer you send me an e-mail to pass it to our legal team,” he said.

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