Trouble for big PMB projects?

2008-03-18 00:00

The directors of two flagship developments planned for the city — one of which is the R3 billion Camps Drift waterfront project — are the shareholders in a Durban consortium that has gone bust. This turn of events has cast doubt on the future of the Pietermaritzburg projects.

According to reports, the company, Dolphin Whispers, went into liquidation after its directors allegedly failed to complete a multimillion-rand upmarket residential complex as part of Durban’s plush Point waterfront.

All except one of the directors of Dolphin Whispers are also directors in either Ocean Spray Investments or New Ground, the two companies that won the contracts to develop the city’s waterfront project and the twinned developments in New England Road and at the Qokololo stadium in Edendale.

The directors are former president Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter Nandi Mandela, Henry Masinga, Vaughn Charles, Marcel Henry and Craig Simmer.

The Daily News reported that the Dolphin Whispers woes started when structural defects were found in the building. The company was involved in litigation with the original construction company contracted to do the work. A second contractor, brought in to correct the defects, could not continue because there was no money to pay staff. The company was liquidated when it failed to furnish Ithala Bank with guarantees.

Simmer, speaking on behalf of his fellow shareholders, said the predicament of Dolphin Whispers will have no impact on the Pietermaritzburg projects. He said the Durban situation arose because of a shareholder not being able to provide funding. “This person is not a director of the companies involved in Pietermaritzburg.”

Asked what guarantees he could give that what happened in Durban will not happen in the city, he said no development can be 100% guaranteed. However, he said the companies involved are completely separate entities with their own funding.

Msunduzi municipal officials remain confident in their ability to deliver. The city’s acting strategic executive manager for economic development and growth, David Gengan, said they have been in touch with the developers and are briefed on what is going on.

He said the New Ground development in New England Road is at the development facilitation stage. The Ocean Spray consortium are carrying out hydrological studies to determine the development at Camps Drift.

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