Contractors block roads due to nonpayment

A road near City Hall is blocked by a rubbish removal vehicle on Tuesday
NO GO: A road near City Hall is blocked by a rubbish removal vehicle on Tuesday

A group of about 20 contractors, collectively owed more than R100m since 2022, stopped work and obstructed key roads in Nelson Mandela Bay on Tuesday, demanding payments as they are frustrated by repeated promises by the municipality.

The contractors lease vehicles for road construction, honey suckers, water carting, and refuse removal to the municipality.

However, despite not being paid, they continued to work this year.

On Tuesday, the contractors used their vehicles to block John Kani Road, Baakens Street, Steve Biko Street (formerly Strand Street) and Military Road.

The roads lead to City Hall.

They also blocked the entrances to the Arlington tip in Walmer and Koedoeskloof landfill in Kariega.

This led to the contractors being called to a meeting with officials and politicians to iron out issues.

Budget and treasury political head Buyelwa Mafaya said it was unacceptable that officials failed to process payments for work done.

“I have also learnt that the city has not made any payments from [the start of the financial year] to date and I want to categorically state that this should not be happening.”

Mafaya said when officials did not do their job it made politicians look “stupid”.

“These are the people we should take care of because they help us look good to people by delivering services.

“If they ever decided to halt services that would reflect badly on us.

“Heads must roll and whoever is responsible for this must account.”

Payment issues have arisen from uncaptured invoices or, when they are captured, the process is delayed by red tape.

One of the contractors, Winston Marais, said the delays affected their other businesses because they could not pay Sars.

He also had to lay off workers because he did not have money to pay them.

“Every six months contracts are renewed with no payments and we have been promised many times we would be paid.

“But nothing seems to come.

“We have discussed our issues in various meetings with the same officials and in all those meetings the municipality acknowledges the issue.

“We can’t continue working because we don’t have the resources.”

Another contractor, Kayakazi Mayola, said she was at her wits’ end trying to get money from the city.

“I feel like I’m being abused and victimised because I am a woman,”  Mayola said.

“Sars has already threatened to attach my assets because I can’t pay.

“I have been to several meetings but have had no joy.

“I now personally owe the municipality R2m for services but the same municipality owes me.”

Mayola said she had to let some workers go due to financial difficulties.

Her workforce has dropped from 44 to 15.

Acting city manager Luvuyo Magalela said the road closures came when the city was conducting meetings with affected service providers.

“We planned to meet the group with long-standing debts on Thursday so we can fast-track payments.”

Magalela said the issues with invoices and lack of tender IDs showed that the city needed to strengthen its systems.

“These are not your problems, but after the Thursday meeting we will ensure that contractors are paid some monies at least by Wednesday next week.”

The contractors promised to remove their trucks from the roads until Thursday.

They want to ensure payment authority documents have been signed off. 



Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.