Durban - The eThekwini Municipality has returned R309 million allocated for the GO!Durban project to the National Treasury because it was not used and may not get it back
This was according to a 2019 report presented by the auditor-general of South Africa.
This is the latest controversy to hit the Integrated Rapid Public Transport Network (IRPTN) project, commonly known as GO!Durban.
There have been several disputes between the taxi industry, the business forums and the municipality.
According to the municipality, the project aims to provide “a flexible, safe, cost-effective, seamless transport experience for the people of eThekwini”.
It was expected to be finished by 2027, but the first of three phases, scheduled to be completed in 2018, is still under construction.
Thabani Mthethwa, DA chief whip and member of the city’s executive committee (exco), said it was not only about the R309m that was surrendered to Treasury, but about the project as a whole.
He was speaking after the DA conducted an inspection at the non-functioning Shepstone Road GO!Durban station in Pinetown yesterday.
Mthethwa said the first phase of the project, which began in 2013, was supposed to be completed in 2018.
He said when the AG’s report was presented to them during a full council sitting, they were told by an official from the auditor-general’s office that once the money was returned to National Treasury, there was no way of getting it back.
“The loss of the money meant the municipality would have to sit down and re-prioritise money from other projects.”
Mthethwa said during their inspection, they found the station was incomplete and had numerous issues such as drainage problems. He said the R309m could have been used to fix these. He felt the problems occurred because of a lack of leadership in the city.
Mdu Nkosi, IFP exco member, said they had warned the city that although the idea was good, its execution would be a problem.
“Not a single road from the project has been completed. Proper consultation with stakeholders was something we had told the municipality to deal with,” he said.
Nkosi felt that no one would be taken to task for having to surrender the money.
Mayoral spokesperson Mluleki Mntungwa said it was wrong to say there was a lack of political leadership.
He said the mayor had already said he wanted catalytic projects like GO!Durban to be completed in time and irregular expenditure would not be tolerated.
Mntungwa said consequence management would have to be applied and denied that opposition parties were not being listened to.
“We have an open door policy and listen to everyone,” he said.
Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the reason for the project delays was that they had to deal with business forums and taxi associations who caused stoppages.
He said the stoppages took out about eight months from project work.
“It was a situation that was beyond our control,” he said.