City finally pays contractor for upgrade

2019-02-27 06:00
An artist’s impression of how the Manaye Hall will look after the upgrade.

An artist’s impression of how the Manaye Hall will look after the upgrade.

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THE highly-anticipated upgrade of the Manaye Hall precinct, in Imbali, has been marred by delays caused by the contractor downing tools after not being paid on time.

The KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has given a R5 million grant to Msunduzi for the project, but a further R39,3 million is still required.

Project champion Mlungisi Mdladla recently told the financial services portfolio and municipal accounts committees that between July and November last year they were stuck because they were awaiting Cogta’s approval of the rollover of funds that were not spent in the previous financial year.

“We have a contractor that’s been working and the issue there was payment. The contractor was only paid three weeks ago for the invoice that was between the period of the rollovers. There was a slight delay there which led to the contractor suspending work on site,” he said.

The project is one of several across the city where underspending on grant funding was reported to the committees.

At least R1,2 million was supposed to have been spent already for this financial year, but only R600 000 had been paid to service providers.

Mdladla said Msunduzi was expecting invoices of more than R320 000 for work done recently.

The hall is the place where former president Nelson Mandela gave his last public speech as a free man in 1961. He was later arrested in Howick as he made his way to Johannesburg.

The upgrade of Manaye forms part of the Freedom Route, which includes sites with links to other struggle icons in Msunduzi and extends all the way to the Mandela Capture Site.

The project is still on its first phase and construction commenced with the amphitheatre in July.

Senior manager Phindile Zondi said the rollover approval took five months for Cogta to give its response.

She said during the period, the City pleaded with the contractor to continue work on site even though they were not being paid at the time.

“They worked up to the point where they said it’s too much, they can’t proceed anymore because they are utilising their funding but they are not getting reimbursed by the municipality. It is for that reason that they had to pull out,” she said.

Zondi said her sub-unit also had engagements with the City’s contract management unit because there were concerns over the slow pace of work on site.

“It came out that we can’t be expecting maximum performance whereas on the other hand we are not paying for the work that they’ve done,” she said.

“It was indicated that we are being unfair, let’s give them an opportunity to be paid and then we will see from there.”

Zondi said the contractor was paid three weeks ago and work had resumed on site.

The upgrade will also include acquiring the three private properties adjacent to the hall, which Msunduzi planned to purchase from the owners at an estimated total cost of R1,2 million.

The Manaye Hall Precinct concept plan consists of:

• Construction of an amphitheatre

(under implementation);

• Enhancement of Manaye Hall

entrance;

• Construction of sidewalks;

• Installation of street lighting;

• Landscaping;

• Construction of parking space and taxi drop-off area; and

• Construction of a coffee shop.

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