Njoli bus route project under threat

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Construction on the Njoli route of the Nelson Mandela Bay bus system has been met with resistance by small business owners and the taxi industry who are demanding to work on the project.
While the SMMEs want work to be ring-fenced for those based in the ward, the taxi association wants up to 40% of the construction work to be allocated to its members.
Chair of the Nelson Mandela Bay Taxi Association – the umbrella body of all associations in the city – Songezo Mpanda said they would be meeting the metro’s political head of transport, Rosie Daaminds, on Tuesday when they would discuss their demands.
Mpanda said all taxi associations backed the Integrated Public Transport System (IPTS) project and the upgrade of the Njoli route but they believed the taxi industry must have a stake in development of the precinct.
“We’re busy engaging with municipal officials and councillor Daaminds.
“We believe about 40% or 30% should come to the taxi industry because some qualify in construction,” Mpanda said.
Mpanda said since signing a memorandum of understanding with the municipality in March, officials had not responded to its demands.
Meanwhile, the municipality said it would not be able to cede to the demands of the SMMEs on ring-fencing work to businesses in the wards.
Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the city chose emerging businesses from a pool of companies on its database.
“This process appears to be unacceptable to the communities.
“The NMBM officials, while striving to implement the policy, are facing huge resistance from the respective communities, who insist that recruited EMEs [emerging micro enterprises] must come from the ward where work is done.
“The municipality has indicated to communities and EMEs that ward-based work ring-fencing is not sustainable to the growth of EMEs.”
Mniki questioned how the companies would compete for work elsewhere when projects in their respective wards were completed.
“Nelson Mandela Bay municipality is a unitary city. That is the same approach it takes in doing business.
“This, in many instances, delays the projects, which results in standing times, financial claims by the contractors and subsequently late completion of the projects,” he said.
The upgrading of Njoli and the Spondo Street intersection and reconfiguring of Njoli Street into a dual carriageway was planned to be implemented over two financial years.
The construction work has been delayed intermittently since it started.
But it is still on track to be completed on schedule.
So far, the municipality has spent more than R39m on the project.
Construction on phase two of the project has started.
A contract worker, who did not want to be named because he is not allowed to speak to the media, said when they started the project there were many disruptions from different taxi associations in Njoli Square.
“You’d be disrupted by the one taxi association, sort things out with that one and another one comes to disrupt again.
“The infighting among ward-based SMMEs and the death of [Ward 22 Business Forum chair] Khaya [Fuleni] also caused delays but we’ve completed phase one now and are ready to instal the traffic lights here,” the worker said.
Fuleni was gunned down in October.
Ward 22 Business Forum chair Arthur Marwana said the matter had since been resolved.
“There’s no issue. We sat down and talked it out. Everyone is getting their portion.”..

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