Upset over road upgrade job ‘promise’

Members of the Masiphumelele Business Habiral and Foundation Forum, infront, CEO Ruben Hela and Victor Sunduzwayo and, at the back, Andre van Heerden and Raymond Twetwa.

The Masiphumelele Business Habitat and Foundations Forum is threatening to bring the Kommetjie Road upgrade project to a halt if the City of Cape Town fails to employ more locals from Masiphumelele and Ocean View to work on the project.

Forum CEO Ruben Hela said not only had the City and its appointed contractor, Martin & East, failed to employ a sufficient number of locals, they had acquired the services of “outsiders” for administrative duties.

“The City and Martin & East are sleeping under one blanket of corruption,” Mr Hela said.

The forum wants the City to admit that it has failed to procure and monitor public finances. It believes that the sub-council has been captured by the City and an urgent stakeholder meeting is needed.

The Masiphumelele Business Habitat and Foundations Forum was established in 2013 and its aim is to create employment opportunities for small businesses through the development of local infrastructure.

Mr Hela said the budget allocated for the Kommetjie Road upgrade project, which is a short-term project, is R1.71 million and Martin and East is compelled to spend 3% of the budget on the procurement of goods and services from local businesses which has not happened.

He said the forum had asked the City and Martin & East on various occasions to meet and discuss the matter further but their meeting requests had been denied.

“We want to know what has happened to the money allocated for small businesses and the City and Martin & East must be investigated. We are ready to hand the matter over to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa),” Mr Hela said.

Mayoral committee member for transport and urban development, Brett Herron, said that in terms of the contract the City had with Martin & East, the firm had to comply with the City’s requirement that at least 5% of the contract value (VAT and provisional sums excluded) must be spent on employing residents from the area and up to 3% of the contract value must be spent on procuring goods and services from local businesses.

He said that since October 2016, Martin & East had appointed 35 residents from Masiphumelele and Ocean View as general construction workers to work on the project.

The names of the 18 residents from Masiphumelele and the 17 residents from Ocean View, of which five were women, had been obtained from the local sub-council jobseekers’ database as per the City’s policy for all City-related contracts.

Mr Herron said Martin & East had acquired the services of a company to manage the administration related to the employment of the 35 residents and said the company had offices throughout South Africa, but all the local labour involved with the Kommetjie Road upgrade project were residents from Masiphumelele and Ocean View.

The budget for the project, he said, was R171 million but the target percentages applied to the value of R128 million only as the full
R171 million included provisional sums and VAT, and those amounts, according to the contract, could be excluded from the calculations.

Mr Herron said Martin & East was compelled to submit to the City monthly progress reports on meeting these conditions.

The City’s project manager also monitors the conditions of the contract on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance and Martin & East can be penalised if they do not comply with the conditions.

But Mr Hela disagrees. He said said the number of local residents employed since October 2016 should be more and the City and Martin and East had failed the people of the local communities.

He said that as a community liaison officer, at the time, he had appointed 10 people from Masiphumelele and 10 people from Ocean View to work on the project, but he had since resigned from the position.

“Martin & East cannot have more permanent staff than locally employed staff, and I estimate they have appointed about 16 locals” Mr Hela said.

Mr Herron said there was no stipulation as to how many people Martin & East must employ – be it permanent or temporary staff – in completing this project, neither did the contract stipulate how they managed their administrative duties.

“The City’s condition relates to the contract value of R128 million only, and not the number of local residents being employed,” he said.

Martin & East has indicated that they will advertise for the procurement of goods and services within the next 30 to 60 days and will advertise the need for goods and services in the local media once the Kommetjie Road project reaches the stage where local business products or services are needed.

Mr Herron said any local contractor can submit a tender or quote for the products and services, and if their prices are competitive and in line with Martin & East’s tendered rates, then Martin & East may appoint them as a supplier of the goods and services advertised.