Incomplete infrastructure project worsening water woes for EC town

Issued by Vicky Knoetze, MPL
Shadow MEC for COGTA

An incomplete infrastructure project related to water and sanitation, millions wasted on poor performing contractors and a site that has been left abandoned, are just some of the issues discovered when the Democratic Alliance conducted oversight on infrastructure projects in the OR Tambo District Municipality.

As part of the DA’s “Broken Municipalities, Broken Province” initiative, I recently conducted an oversight inspection at the incomplete Ntsonyeni Off-Chanel Storage Dam, outside Port St Johns in the OR Tambo District Municipality.

The site, which was supposed to have been completed in February last year, was found to be completely abandoned, with only about 30% of the expected work done.

The contract, worth R200,763 million, was awarded to Liviero Civils JV Magna-Corp, trading as K2S Construction, and commenced in February 2019. Although the project is standing at only 30% complete, an amount of R136 million (68%) has already been spent.

In response to parliamentary questions, COGTA MEC, Xolile Nqatha, said an additional amount of R238 million is required to complete the project. The additional amount exceeds the permissible 20% for a variation order, which has resulted in the project stalling.

MEC Nqatha also revealed that the municipality is in the process of terminating the contract, saying “the department is not happy” with the expenditure, the fact that the project is stalled and the further situation in terms of which no penalties have been recovered from the contractor.

Further to this, Nqatha also said there “needs to be accountability” and the “matter requires investigation and a report”.

Download response

The DA finds the situation in terms of which 68% of the money has been spent on a project which is only 30% complete – with no penalties paid by the contactor whatsoever – completely unacceptable and highly irregular.

I will be submitting follow up questions to MEC Nqatha to ascertain what other projects the contractor is involved in, the completion rate of those projects, and whether and how the municipality will recover funds from the contractor.

The DA has continuously requested the province to red flag or blacklist contractors that have been identified as poor performers, to ensure that they are not awarded any further contracts.

Yet, Eastern Cape municipalities and provincial departments continue to fall into the same trap.

There are no consequences for poor performers, no cost recovery, and they keep getting tender after tender.

Water and sanitation projects must be prioritised, especially since many communities in the Eastern Cape are still without their basic human rights of access to water and sanitation, and the Eastern Cape is a water-scarce province.

Monitoring of water projects is essential. This situation could have been avoided if effective monitoring and evaluation processes were in place.

The DA will continue with a programme of oversight of incomplete infrastructure projects in municipalities, especially those that are linked to basic human rights such as water and sanitation.

Without access to these services, many South Africans are suffering grave injustices to their rights and dignity.