The classic elegance of the City Hall. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/AN Pictures

Pretoria - The company accused of poor workmanship on a project to revamp the City Hall has claimed the Tshwane Municipality owes it R4.9 million.
In October 2013, under the previous ANC-led city government, Bahlaping Investments Holdings was appointed to undertake renovations to the City Hall, estimated to cost R90m.

It started work in February 2014, but while the contract was being carried out, it was accused of poor workmanship.

The former municipal administration asked the company to rectify “defective and substandard work” on the municipal property.

At the time there were claims that contractors had caused damage to the historic organ in the city hall when scaffolding being used by painters fell on its pipes, and that it would have to be sent overseas where it would cost R18m to fix.

The renovation work at the 80-year-old City Hall was commissioned by the ANC-led municipality under former mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa.

However, when it could not comply with the city’s request, its contract was cancelled, according to court papers in which the company claims it is owed money.

The company disputed the city’s version that it had been notified about problems, saying the defendant (the city) “simply tried to avoid liability for work done”.

Its court bid was lodged amid allegations that millions of rand in taxpayers’ money had been squandered on the project.

It was described by the opposition DA, which now controls the city, as a “glory project” for the former mayor, who had indicated his intention to move into offices at the City Hall.

The court papers, which the Pretoria News has seen, shed more light on how the city spent public funds on the renovation project.

They show that Bahlaping was engaged for work including plastering, plumbing and drainage, flooring, painting and glazing, mechanical works and water and fire services.

It had also been contracted to provide covered executive parking, an entrance and bullet resistant glass. Installing the bullet proof glass, ridiculed by mayor Solly Msimanga during a visit to the property last year, came at a cost of R2.4m.

The company had not done all the work itself, but partnered with its three sister construction companies.

The statue of Chief Tshwane in front of the Pretoria City Hall. Picture: Karen Sandison/ANA Pictures

Bahlaping, identified in court papers as a leading construction company, is part of Ntshadi Consortium, a group of construction companies made up also of Ntshadi Construction, Mogage Mothusi Construction Projects and TCT Civil and Construction.

It was the main contractor, but all subsidiaries also had stakes in the City Hall renovation project, with each allocated specific jobs for which they invoiced the city separately, according to court papers.

TCT Civils charged the city an amount of R4.6m for the ceiling and R3.5m for electrical works.

It also did tiling, floor covering, ironmongery, carpentry and joinery, according to the papers.

Ntshadi Construction was responsible for alterations, water proofing and roof covering work valued at an estimated R4.1m.

Mogage Mothusi rendered landscaping work amounting to R2.1m.

Msimanga had previously raised concerns about poor workmanship done on the historic building, as well as the astronomical budget attached to it.

He said the prices were inflated and the contractor had fleeced the city. Msimanga hired investigators to probe allegations of corruption in the project.

Although the mayor was unaware of the legal action undertaken by the construction company, he welcomed it, saying it would begin to reveal evidence on how city money was spent.

“Maybe we will begin to get more answers (such as) what work may have been put in there and how much money was put in there,” Msimanga said

“I am glad that somebody is willing to challenge what might have happened at the City Hall, or what is happening,” Msimanga said.

Aside from the damage, at the time Msimanga noted that fittings and other valuable items were missing from the building.

Bahlaping said the cancellation of the agreement had not been in accordance with the provisions of the agreement.

It claimed the city breached the agreement by neglecting to pay the outstanding balance due to the company.

“The defendant is indebted to the plaintiff in the sum of R4.9m, excluding VAT for work done,” it said in court papers.

Part of the contract stated that the service provider was responsible for conducting the City Hall building audit study report, heritage study, renovations and erection of office blocks in the north and south wing of the property.

The Pretoria News understands that the matter has not yet been contested in court to enable the city to challenge it.

This was due to a request by the court to Bahlaping’s legal representatives to sort out their legal documents.

Lawyers for Bahlaping were not available for comment.

Pretoria News