City forced to find R1,9 mln for track as KZN Athletics blames delays

2018-09-18 15:45
The track gets a good scrubbing ahead of the opening of the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium this Saturday.

The track gets a good scrubbing ahead of the opening of the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium this Saturday. (Ian Carbutt)

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The City recently had to go scrounging for close to R2 million after KZN Athletics allegedly failed to honour its financial commitment towards the construction of the Msunduzi Athletics Stadium.

The multi-million rand project started in 2011 with the funding from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Sports and Recreation. KZN Athletics had also pledged R1,9 million towards the track building, equipment and capacity building for the project. The funding would have been sourced from Lotto.

In a letter dated August 2012, which The Witness has seen, KZN Athletics president Sello Mokoena said the funds would be released in tranches as was normal practice in the project building industry.

“Invoices must be submitted to KZN Athletics for work done towards the building of the track and draws will be made against the invoices presented.”

However, a senior official at City Hall on Monday told The Witness that the funds were never transferred to Msunduzi’s bank account.

“We hadn’t budgeted for that amount because we were certain it was coming. As a result we recently had to bring a variation order before council to ask for more money for the stadium because we could not wait for KZN Athletics any longer,” said the official.

The stadium, which is scheduled for a grand opening this Saturday, was initially expected to cost R45,9 million, but the amount doubled due to delays in construction and maintenance.

The recent variation order came before council last month with a request for approval for R5,6 million that was to go towards items such as the football pitch, palisade fencing, seats and athletics timing equipment.

“We had to go and beg council for more money otherwise the opening of the stadium would have been delayed again because we couldn’t use it for a major sporting event without the proper equipment and seats,” said the official.

Last month, The Witness reported that Mokoena was threatening legal action against Msunduzi over the hosting of the Africa Athletics League competition for the opening of the stadium.

At the time he said there had been no proper consultation over the event and the stadium had not been inspected to ensure that it met the sport’s health and safety standards.

Mokoena rejected allegations against KZN Athletics as malicious because it was the delays in the project that cost the City funding.

“When Lotto gives you money you have to use it or surrender it. Msunduzi were informed in 2011 that KZN Athletics had written to Lotto requesting for those funds to be used elsewhere because the project was not starting,” said Mokoena

He said Lotto availed the funding in 2009 but the project stalled when Msunduzi was placed under administration in 2010.

“When I wrote to the municipality in 2012, it was my first week in the office, so I was not aware of what had transpired because the funds were still there but a few days after that letter you saw I wrote to them again to remind them of the decision that had been taken to use the funds elsewhere.

“What they won’t tell you is that even at that time they still could not use the money because the municipality was still under administration.

“So who is to blame for their delays?” he asked.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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