Durban - Councillors want to know how many contractors are doing work for the eThekwini Municipality without authorisation.
The issue came to the fore during an executive committee (exco) meeting this week when the city revealed that it had identified close to R90 million to pay contractors who had done work for the city.
DA councillor Thabani Mthethwa said it was unacceptable that contractors did work and the city had to pay them, despite never having appointed them. He said there had been many instances across the city where contractors did work and then demanded payment from the city.
The committee received a report seeking authority to reallocate funds to the amount of R88m arising from savings identified in the 2021-2022 capital budget to fund expenditure incurred under projects for the provision of water and sanitation services for human settlements.
The city is currently facing a challenge of unauthorised expenditure incurred for projects related to the refurbishment of communal ablution blocks in various wards of eThekwini Municipality.
The work was done by various service providers working under the main contractor employed by the municipality during the 2019-2020 financial year.
In December 2019, payments were processed for all payment certificates that had been certified by the design consultants who were appointed to supervise this work. But additional claims have been received for more work that remains unpaid, most of which had yet to be verified.
“Through the verification process by the forensic auditors, the unit has been able to retroactively confirm value for money for work amounting to R88.17m to be transferred from various projects for the payment of claims against the city, as contained in the report by the Head: Water and Sanitation dated 2022-05-22,” the report read.
It recommended that exco approve the request to transfer the funds from savings to fund the unauthorised expenditure.
But opposition parties expressed concerns about the general issue of contractors doing work without permission.
“We should be charging the people who go on site and start doing work without authority,” said Mthethwa. “This is not the first time this has happened. It is now becoming a habit where people do the work and invoice the municipality. We do take the fact that people did work, but they did the work without permission, and that is highly irregular,” he said.
EFF councillor Thabane Miya said that while the party understood the plight of those who had done the work, it was wrong and unethical for councillors to allow this situation to continue.
“Maybe we need to get an indication of how many of these projects are out there so we can deal with them and then institute a moratorium,” said Miya.
ANC councillor Nkosenhle Madlala said that they supported the suggestion that the city should get a report on how many such projects were being done without authority.
The recommendation to transfer the funds to pay for the outstanding expenditure was approved by the majority in exco.