File Photo: IOL
Durban - KWADUKUZA Municipality has failed to spend more than R100million meant to be invested in the delivery of roads, housing and electricity.

A council report tabled last week detailing its spending in the last quarter of the 2018-19 fiscal year, found it had underspent on its capital expenditure programme by around R101m.

About R236m had been budgeted for this programme.

It was reported that KwaDukuza had only spent 43% of its budget.

The electrical engineering department spent half of its R58m budget.

KwaDukuza spokesperson Sipho Mkhize said the municipality had faced a challenge in spending on infrastructure with less than half of their budget spent.

“The main issue was that committees like the tender committee and bid adjudication committee, meant to move the projects to the next level, weren’t able to meet as regularly as they should because their meeting often clashed with council meetings officials have to attend.

“This led to some of the officials prioritising council meetings for fear of being accused of trying to avoid accounting to the council,” he said.

He said failure to approve tenders on time developed into a service delivery crisis.

“For instance, the town was plunged into darkness because the street lights were no longer working because they weren’t being maintained.

“But since the start of this financial year, we’ve started with delivering on these projects, starting with the street lights. There’s also groundwork on five other projects,” he said.

Mkhize said the council and the administration had come to an arrangement that would allow officials to be excused from council meetings when they had supply chain meetings to attend.

DA caucus leader Madhun Sing said the residents were being short-changed.

“This directly contributes to services delivery challenges, from fixing potholes to repairing street lights and refuse collection. The situation on the ground is untenable and a glaring neglect of our infrastructure.

“This trend of underspending over the years is unacceptable and points to capacity challenges or sheer incompetence to deliver on the budget and IDP (Integrated Development Plan).

“The supply chain management system needs to be re-visited to fast- track tender processes so that projects start and finish within the financial year,” he said.

Sing dismissed the council’s explanation as an excuse, as “other municipalities are spending 70% to 80% of their infrastructure grant”.

The Mercury