Durban - The mortuary building project at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital in Phoenix was progressing – even though one of the companies that won the multimillion-rand tender had gone into liquidation, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health said.
The department said recently a new contractor was already on site.
In February, the DA’s George Mari sent a list of parliamentary questions to Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo about developments at the mortuary after the construction company was liquidated.
The response to the DA’s questions was signed by department head, Dr Sibongile Zungu, on February 14 and, five days later, by Dhlomo.
Dhlomo said the project, which was expected to be completed by July 9, was not on track.
He said the contract was valued at R68 750 000 and more than R10 million had been paid to the contractor.
He also said the contract with TBP Buildings and Civils and Isiphiwo Trading, which was awarded on December 11, 2011, had not been terminated.
Seventeen contractors had bid for the tender. Durban businesswoman Shauwn Mpisane’s Zikhulise Cleaning, Maintenance and Transport CC had put in the lowest bid.
The owner of Isiphiwo Trading, who would only identify herself as “Mbali”, said she had been to the site last week and the project was on track.
“We have not been liquidated. Work is continuing at the Phoenix mortuary,” she said.
She declined to comment on allegations of non-performance and the incapacity of Isiphiwo Trading to deliver.
It is believed that TBP Buildings and Civils was liquidated last month.
According to an online advert by auctioneer Aucor, all office furniture, computers, desks, tools and equipment belonging to TBP Buildings and Civils went under the hammer last week.
The Westville company could not be reached for comment as its phone numbers no longer exist.
The departments of Health and Public Works were negotiating with the liquidator on how the project could be completed, Dhlomo said.
Health Department spokes-man, Sam Mkhwanazi, said it had been more than a month since Dhlomo had replied to the DA and the situation had changed.
He said the mortuary building was 25 percent complete and work had never stopped completely.
“Work on the project is continuing and the new contractor is already on site. The issue of cost recovery does not arise as the liquidator is honouring the contract,” he said.
Once completed, the facility would have the capacity to store 460 bodies, Mkhwanazi said.
Mari said the DA was seeking clarity.
He said Dlomo had said the project had come to a halt earlier this year and was not expected to be completed on time.
Mari described the situation as a crisis.
“The areas north of the city are in desperate need of a proper mortuary and have been waiting many years for this facility.”
He said the new mortuary would help ease the burden on other state mortuaries, including the Gale Street (Magwaza Maphalala) mortuary, which was under immense strain.
said the DA was calling on Dhlomo to immediately terminate the contract with the two companies based on their non-performance.