Fury as R36m is blown on nonexistent toilets

2018-02-25 06:01
(Picture: AFP)

(Picture: AFP)

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The eThekwini municipality blew R36 million on 2 200 toilets that were never built.

The money – supposed to have been spent on urinary-diversion (UD) toilets, which were supposed to have been installed in the poor neighbourhoods across the city – was paid to four companies, none of which delivered any toilets.

Making matters worse, the metro was prepared to pay double the price – R18 300 (a unit) instead of R9 600, the actual price.

City Press is in possession of a report by the “city integrity and investigations unit”, which made the findings.

The report – titled Alleged Procurement Irregularities – calls for disciplinary processes to be instituted against the deputy head of sanitation operations at the water and sanitation unit, Sibusiso Vilane, as well as Vusumuzi Mkhwanazi, the senior manager of special programmes at the water and sanitation unit.

The two officials were found to have contravened the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA) by causing the municipality to incur irregular expenditure of R36 126 257.24.

“Vilane and Mkhwanazi contravened section 78 and section 17(3) of the MFMA and schedule 2 of the MSA [Local Government Municipal System Act] by failing to ensure resources of the municipality were used effectively, efficiently, economically and transparently when they approved payment without verifying that the UD toilets material had been ordered and received from manufacturers,” the report said.

Additional recommendations included black-listing three of the four companies, Magubane Plant, Uhlanga and Soundrite, for committing irregular practices and registering a case of fraud against them with the police.

The toilets were intended to service “previously disadvantaged and marginalised communities” of eThekwini, which is facing a major backlog in the provision of decent sanitation.

The priority areas are without bulk sewerage infrastructure, leaving the municipality with the only option of installing onsite infrastructure, including UD toilets.

The three service providers were specifically requested by the water and sanitation unit to install the toilets, despite two of the companies not having any experience in constructing the UD toilets.

The water and sanitation unit requested that the toilets be supplied at a cost of R18 300 each, despite the municipality having secured the same units from a manufacturer in 2016 for the price of R9 600 a UD toilet.

The municipality agreed to pay double the price of the unit.

The report fingers the three companies for committing fraud when they submitted invoices to the municipality before delivering the 2 200 units.

. Magubane Plant was paid R2 587 458;

. Soundrite was paid R2 587 458; and

. Uhlanga was paid R2 587 457.

The report makes no finding against the fourth company, Temblos, which was paid R28 363 844.22, after the three companies signed cession agreements with the unit.

The city integrity and investigations unit’s report shows that procedure was flouted and the companies and municipality could not account for the processes.

When asked for minutes of the meetings during which key decisions were taken, the parties referred to informal verbal agreements.

Action is yet to be taken against the implicated parties. Whistle-blowers close to the matter told City Press that eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede had told city manager Sipho Nzuza to cancel a meeting during which he was planning to announce the recommendations.

Gumede’s spokesperson, Mthunzi Gumede, denied this, saying: “The allegations by faceless sources are false and concocted, there’s no law that empowers the mayor to deal with administrative matters. All administrative queries are dealt with administratively; mayor Gumede supports all efforts towards clean governance.

Despite extensive questions – sent to city manager Nzuza about any engagement with the mayor and why no action had been taken against the guilty parties – spokesperson for Nzuza and the municipality Tozi Mthethwa responded, saying only that: “The city manager will study the report and implement its recommendations.”

Read more on:    durban

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