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Bloom challenges R30m highway beautification

Posted On Monday, 06 September 2010 02:00 Published by
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The DA in Gauteng has called for an investigation into the Albert Sisulu airport highway beautification project after a second contract has been allegedly granted without going to tender.

By Karedn van Rooyen

The Democratic Alliance in Gauteng has called for an investigation into the Albert Sisulu airport highway beautification project after a second contract was allegedly granted without going to tender.

The whole thing was very suspicious Earlier this year, the Gauteng Roads and Transport cancelled its R30-million contract with the Utho Ngathi Development Corporation for removing rubble and weeds from the verges along the highway, planting trees and putting up flag poles.

The project was for the World Cup. The contract did not go to tender.

In April, the DA's Jack Bloom said leaked documents showed how "Ms Benedicta Monama, the head of the Gauteng department of roads and transport, recommended that 'a sole and unsolicited proposal be accepted' from the company".

Bloom said: "She justified this deviation from normal tender procedures on the basis of urgency as part of the work needed to be completed before the World Cup, and also that the proposal was 'sound', 'innovative' and 'exceptionally beneficial'."

Asked by Bloom why the initial contract was cancelled, transport MEC Bheki Nkosi on Friday said the decision was based on the company's "milestone progress, against expected completion date".

"The department had no confidence that the service provider would meet the strict deadline, and as an early intervention measure decided to avert the risk event of late completion, the department terminated the services of the said service provider," Nkosi said.

The task of beautifying the highway, including clearing grass and rubble, planting 1 060 trees and 1 million plants, and putting up flagpoles and flags at a cost of nearly R30-million, fell to Joburg City Parks and a company called Silverhorns Consortium.

That contract has now raised Bloom's suspicion, who said his costing exercises concluded that the project could have been done at a third of that cost.

"Silverhorns completed it in record time. It looked magnificent, all these flags, but I'm not sure it cost R30-million," Bloom said on Friday.

"The whole thing was very suspicious, and it looks good, I must say. The big mystery is, who is this consortium?"

Attempts to get comment from Gauteng's department of roads and transport were unsuccessful.

Utho Ngathi Development Corporation, has invoiced the province for nearly R19-million, or R11-million less than the original R30-million.

Company owner Vuyo Daweti said he "downgraded" his initial invoice as the company had not completed the work as scheduled. It was now awaiting payment for work done.

Daweti said the company did not intend going to court. "I don't want to fight," he said. "I want to work with the province, and have a cordial relationship with them."

Source: The Times

Publisher: I-Net Bridge
Source: I-Net Bridge
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