Dodgy dredging to be called off

2010-07-05 00:00

THE Msunduzi Municipality has decided to terminate the multi-million- rand contract for the dredging of the Camps Drift canal.

The municipality said it found that the contractor has managed to dredge only 29% of the area he was supposed to have completed before the contract was meant to have been finalised last Wednesday.

Last week, The Witness reported that the contractor was running out of time to finish the dredging and there were complaints from residents of nearby flats that they could not sleep because the contractor was dredging 24 hours a day in an attempt to meet the deadline.

Speaking at a recent sitting of the executive committee (Exco), Msunduzi Mayor Mike Tarr said: “The contract is running way over time and going slower than anticipated.”

He said he recently visited the site and discovered that the contractor still had a fair amount of work to do.

Acting municipal manager Thokozani Maseko confirmed that progress on the desilting contract has been “below average and not satisfactory for the municipality and the contractor had inadequate experience”.

Maseko said the contractor had told them that lack of production was caused by the filthy state of the river.

He said the municipality’s technical monitoring team disputed the contractor’s claims that he had pulled items that included mattresses, fridges, car parts and tyres out of the river.

“In terms of the contract instruction, it has always been requested that the contractor must stockpile the debris, take photos and possibly invite a municipal representative before the debris is removed to a dumpsite,” said Maseko.

He said the dredging was supposed to have been finalised by February this year,

The municipality gave the contractor an additional four months to finish the job, but he still failed.

Democratic Alliance caucus whip Rodger Ashe said “it was a widely held view that the contractor lacked experience” when he was awarded the contract.

He asked whether the contractor will be given the entire R12,8 million quoted for the work even though the job is not complete.

Maseko said the contractor will be paid only for the amount of silt he has managed to dredge and Exco will be given a report informing it of the pay-out.

Contractor Dr Jabulani Mjwara told The Witness he does not know why the contract was cancelled.

He said the operation ran into great difficulties in dredging the canal because of the massive amounts of debris in the river.

“It’s not due to failure of any sort from our side,” he said.

Mjwara disputed that they have completed only 29% of the work.

He said the figure is closer to 60% and that is why he has lodged a claim of R8 million out of the total R12,8 million.

All the canoeing fraternity wants is a deep, clean drift in which to paddle.

Speaking to The Witness on condition of anonymity, a canoeist said the paddlers harbour no animosity towards the municipality, but they are worried about the cancellation of the contract and the appointment of a new contractor.

They said Mjwara’s work did not meet their expectations as large areas had yet to be attended to.

In some places the water is so shallow that their paddles are either scooping up sludge or getting stuck in the mud.

There was a massive outcry when Mjwara, the former provincial head of the the Agriculture and Environmental Affairs Department , was given the contract two years ago.

Not only did he lack the technical expertise called for in the tender, but he was also under investigation for alleged financial mismanagement and maladministration in the department.


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