LAND disputes around Gonubie’s bottleneck roadworks cost Buffalo City Metro (BCM) R3.08-million for 88 wasted work days.
Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Fikile Xasa was responding to written questions from DA MPL Vicky Knoetze.
Knoetze yesterday attacked Xasa, the roads and public works department and BCM, saying: “Their approach has been completely lack lustre. There is no sense of urgency. Look at the [negative] consequences for residents and landowners. They just don’t seem interested in settling. The MEC and his legal department must settle this as soon as possible.”
Buffalo City Ratepayers’ Forum chairman Andre Swart accused BCM and Xasa of a “nonchalant” attitude. “They say the money is available in this financial year, so why don’t they settle their debt?”
Xasa said the “land issue” delays led to the contractor, Basil Read, putting in two claims against BCM for lost productivity: 42 days at R35 000 a day (R1.47-million) and 46 days (R1.61-million).
Xasa said while only a few landowners had objected to the “access and use” of the “road reserve”, no money would be paid to landowners until expropriation notices were signed by the legal department of roads and public works.
Xasa said an out-of-court agreement, reached with landowners in January last year, had seen judge Frank Kroon arbitrating and trying to settle land valuation disputes while landowners had given Basil Read access to their land.
Xasa said that while BCM’s claim in the high court to “ownership of land within the road reserve is still ongoing,” BCM was also applying “to expropriate all the land required outside the road reserve”.
BCM had also applied to roads and public works to expropriate land outside of the road reserve. Xasa said about R5-million was owed to land owners, and this was in the current budget, but landowner Gary Rieger said this was “too little”.
Rieger and seven other landowners will meet for another arbitration session with Kroon in April, where the main argument is the discrepancy of BCM’s offer of R70/m² versus Gonubie’s “market price” of R613/m². Rieger was also preparing to ask the high court to rule on a further two portions of his land which he claims is being taken up by the road. —