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eThekwini awarded R90m tender without a contract - report reveals

Water supply is a challenge in many areas in South Africa. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Water supply is a challenge in many areas in South Africa. Picture: Bongani Mbatha/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jul 5, 2023


Durban — In what appears to be an attempt to avoid being found to be in contempt of court, eThekwini Municipality allegedly used an expired tender contract to continue doing business with five companies it had appointed irregularly for a water tanker supply worth R90 million.

This information is contained in a damning report compiled by a private forensic firm that was hired by Xmoor Transport.

The company, which is still embroiled in a court battle with the city for the same tender, took the municipality to court after suspecting that the city had unfairly adjudicated the bid to supply water and its bid was unfairly rejected.

It then objected and appealed to the city’s appeals authority, which ruled in its favour.

The company also successfully interdicted the city to continue with the five companies pending the outcome of the court process.

The three-year tender was awarded in August last year but was interdicted in December by the court. It was also set aside by the city’s appeals authority in the same month but, according to the report, the companies continued to supply water for the city but were paid under the expired tender.

The municipality secretly continued with the five companies and used the old tender which had nothing to do with water supply to make payments to the companies, the report found.

The tender, which fell under the engineering department, was a three-year contract and had been awarded in 2019 and ended in 2022.

Furthermore, the report revealed that the companies were irregularly awarded the tender since they never met most of the requirements.

In terms of the tender specifications, the company had to bring proof of ownership of trucks which were not older than five years and roadworthy, but the report found that none of the trucks that were used belonged to the five companies.

The report found that all the trucks belonged to one particular company which never received work, yet the tender was awarded to five companies.

Most of the trucks were more than 10 years old and 80% of them were unroadworthy, while some of them had no registration numbers.

The report said when 23 drivers were interviewed on how they agreed to operate unroadworthy trucks, they said their boss told them that he was protected therefore no one would stop them and if anyone stopped them they must immediately call Ntuli (his name is known to this paper).

It is unclear what Ntuli’s status was to wield so much power to prevent unroadworthy vehicles being stopped by the police.

“We have done intensive investigation that has led to the outcome that eThekwini Municipality is running in a clandestine manner to hide the facts that there is no contract, but evidence points to CF62/20 being awarded secretly. The municipality has gone to great lengths to hide their wrongdoing. It has even gone to the extent of instructing the drivers not to write the companies’ details on the daily trip sheets,” read the report.

Xmoor Transport and the municipality were back in court last week on the same matter but the case was postponed to October.

The company demands that since the tender was set aside it must be re-advertised.

Last year there were rumours that the city had paid the companies despite a court interdict because the money was needed to pay for the ANC conference which took place in December.

Attempts to solicit comment from the city were unsuccessful. This is a developing story.

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