Funds allocated to the Commercial Road sewer reticulation project and upgrade to the Kingsburgh Wastewater Treatment Works have been re-prioritised by council to purchase 13 jetting machines.
Ward 97 councillor, Andre Beetge said his office was approached by officials from wastewater design in the last quarter of 2017, to request that funding destined for the long-awaited Amanzimtoti sewer reticulation project from Commercial Road along Bernadotte Road, be reprioritised to an emergency project in Durban North.
The officials elaborated that there had been a delay in the processes and should the funding not be reprioritised, it would be lost to all, as spending had to occur within the same financial year as it had been approved. “Our office scrutinised documentation and on receipt of confirmation that the project would be embodied and then with increased funding in the 2018/19 budget and implemented shortly thereafter, agreed accordingly,” said Cllr Beetge.
The main line’s rupture under the N2 at the beginning of 2018 resulted in raw sewage flowing directly into Amanzimtoti River, in contravention of environmental legislation. Measures were put into place for the project’s commencement in the 2018/19 financial year and it appeared as a funded mandate in the new budget.
“But on 10 September 2018 we again found the same officials at our door, pleading that funding be transferred towards the purchase of 13 much-needed jetting machines to ensure the city’s old and failing sewer infrastructure accros the entire City can be rendered clear and flowing without obstruction,” said Cllr Beetge.
“We, however noted that as much as the machines were needed to achieve the objectives of plan three of the Integrated Development Plan (IDP), they were never budgeted for, nor were they ever mentioned as a necessity.
The motivation further referred to funding being available as a result of ‘savings’, a term that our office immediately questioned, as savings would in fact be the remnant of what was budgeted but not spent after completion of a project, not what became available as a result of the non-implementation of the project. The problem being that in reality there were no savings, but only someone who didn’t do their job correctly.”
The councillor’s enquires revealed that the contractor originally tasked with the design of the new reticulation line in Amanzimtoti, had only completed 90% of the project before funding had run out, even after various contract extensions had been granted, and because of this, the design was no longer acceptable and had to be re-advertised as the entire project would have to be redesigned from scratch.
“Only after our intervention, did it manifest that ‘someone’ within the department had apparently dropped the ball, resulting in it only being submitted to the bid scope committee (BSC) on 1 October.
The tender is advertised to close on 23 November, the BEC to consider on 28 January, and the bid adjudication committee (BAC) to approve by 4 February. Then hopefully award it on 25 March, which means the envisaged seven-year design and implementation phase will only commence into 2019/20, yet remaining subject to the project achieving 80 points as opposed to the current 45 that the project scored for it to be prioritised and recognised for implementation.
This effectively left us in a catch 22, as while the river remains subject to constant sewage outfalls, and premises along Rosslyn Road are prone to sewage-infused flooding due to irregular stormwater connection, it is vitally important to have the jetting machines,” said Cllr Beetge.
Because of this necessity, council’s sitting on Tuesday, 30 October unanimously agreed to re-prioritise R6.25-million from the sewer reticulation project and R1.9-million allocated to the wastewater treatment works towards the R30-million required to purchase jetting machines, three of which are destined to serve the needs of the southern areas of the city.
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