City sued over R5m guardrail deal

Rochelle de Kock

A LEGAL spat between the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality and the company it hired to repair guardrails and fencing in 2010, Moko Construction, will be in court on Monday.

This comes after the municipality refused to pay Moko Construction R5.4-million for work allegedly completed because a company hired to verify the work, GIBB Engineering and Science, claimed that the invoices had been inflated.

A second company, Letsunyane, was hired to also physically verify the work done and found that while there had been irregularities, it did not constitute fraud.

In a confidential report by city manager Mpilo Mbambisa to the municipal public accounts committee, he reported that Moko Construction had submitted three invoices which totalled R5.437-million for work done for the municipality based on a verbal agreement.

Although the metro approved two of the invoices – for R935000 and R1.5-million – it refused to sign the third invoice for R2.9-million because it could not find the guardrail work that had been done.

“The infrastructure and engineering management requested Mr [Freddie] Moko [owner of Moko Construction] to substantiate his claim on these invoices and he subsequently reduced the total to R4.421-million,” Mbambisa reported.

“A record of location and quantities of guardrails replaced … was provided by Moko to infrastructure and engineering [department].

“Personnel from infrastructure and engineering alleged that Moko Construction claimed to have replaced 320 guardrails on the R75 highway, which amounted to R637120.

“The R75 highway does not fall within the jurisdiction [of the municipality], and it was also alleged that Moko had not been instructed by the infrastructure and engineering management to perform the work.”

Moko refused to comment yesterday, saying it had “nothing to do with The Herald”.

“Besides, the case is going to court on Monday so I don’t want to comment,” he said.

According to Mbambisa’s report, GIBB Engineering performed an on-site audit of five guardrail installations and on four of those locations, GIBB and Moko disagreed on the work that had been completed.

“Moko Construction explained that some of the differences were as a result of certain guardrails placed more than once.

“Certain guardrails claimed by Moko Construction to be newly installed during 2010 were judged as old by GIBB.

“GIBB identified a physical count of units of guardrails and a physical measurement of running metres of mesh fencing which were far less than the quantities of guardrail units and fence metres reflected in the Moko Construction invoices,” Mbambisa wrote in the report.

The report said Moko Construction objected to the way the verification had been conducted.

When the second verification process took place by Letsunyane, the independent company had to physically count and measure all the guardrails and fences installed by Moko Construction.

According to Mbambisa, “there was evidence on the ground of work carried out by the contractor”.

In August last year, Moko Construction notified the municipality of its intention to take the matter to court.

The case is expected to be heard in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday.