Our Burning Planet


Cash-strapped Eastern Cape municipality spent R100m on upgrading a beachfront

Cash-strapped Eastern Cape municipality spent R100m on upgrading a beachfront
Top: An architect’s impression of what the East London beachfront was supposed to look like. Bottom: The final product after completion. (Photos: Facebook)

The East London beachfront upgrades cost close to R100m — not R87m as originally stated by the municipality.

Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane unveiled an East London beachfront on Wednesday afternoon, which was initially reported to have cost R87-million. However, recent information reveals that the actual cost is close to R100-million (R99,533,959.07). 

Daily Maverick is in possession of papers confirming this from the municipal manager, who was responding to a DA councillor. These are expected to be tabled before the council within two weeks. 

The cash-strapped Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality (BCMM) faced a backlash on Thursday as the public expressed outrage over what were seen as exorbitant costs.

To make matters worse, the final project unveiled by the Premier is not the same as what was presented to the council three years ago. Given this, the municipality should have saved money. But spent more instead. 

Beach protest

The EFF in East London held a protest against the unveiling of the beachfront, and called for an investigation into the escalated costs and delays of the project. 

This forced Mabuyane and Co. to cut short their speeches. 

The 24-hectare Eastern Beach Front area project commenced in 2020, with an initial estimated cost of about R50-million. It was initially scheduled to be completed in November 2022, but there were delays and further funding requests made. 

There were also contractual disputes, which led to some contractors not continuing with the work they were hired to do. 

The beachfront is named in honour of slain local champion boxer, Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels, who was killed by her policeman boyfriend Sergeant Bulelani Manyakama. 

The boyfriend later died from injuries sustained in a car crash while fleeing the scene of the shooting.

The approved proposal was meant to have:

  • An Information Centre
  • Ablutions facilities
  • Amphitheatre
  • Walkways and
  • Hawker Stalls

Daily Maverick discovered that there is an information centre across the road from the actual precinct (an empty building with a built-in counter –  just a building with no signage or furniture. There are also toilets.)

The hawkers’ stalls were badly built – especially given the wind that can blow at the site. Hawkers will have to bring their own tables and boxes to store goods in. 

The walkway is just an open space with cement and bricks. 

The East London beachfront after the project was completed. (Photos: Facebook)

Questionable workmanship

The project also shows poor workmanship, with weeds already growing between the bricks, bits of brick missing and cement cracking.

The construction was not without delays. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: R3.8bn a year – how much the Eastern Cape needs to fix potholes and maintain roads

DA Buffalo City Caucus Leader Sue Bentley said from the onset they were against the project for various reasons which include: 

The excessive cost, given that the Metro is desperately in need of infrastructure upgrading.

  • Ongoing delays in the project completion, resulting in a lack of confidence in the Buffalo City Metro Development Agency’s (BCMDA) ability to manage a big project.
  • The increasing budget.

“The shoddy workmanship and materials used as the newly configured Moore Street has been plagued with potholes and the roofs of the hawkers’ stalls have already been damaged by the wind,” she said. 

“The DA will now table further questions to force the municipality to provide answers regarding the viability and longevity of the project, and to keep it from becoming an expensive white elephant.” 

EFF’s Mziyanda Hlekiso called for a probe and forensic investigation into the project, saying there are glaring signs of corruption in the entire project.

“We will be approaching relevant authorities, and those who are found to have squandered state resources will be brought to book. Over the years this municipality has become the ANC’s biggest cash cow. The ANC is relentless and brutal when it comes to looting of municipal funds. In 2013 their leaders embezzled money that was meant to prepare for Tata Nelson Mandela’s funeral.” 

BCM spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya said the municipality has requested beachfront contractors to submit a report detailing the full scope of works, budget and implementation plan. 

We are also aware that there were contractual disputes between the Agency and some of the contractors and consultants during the implementation period.

The scope of the project had to be adjusted on several occasions due to the issues that were discovered on site, which affected excavations and earthworks. However, it is our role and responsibility on behalf of the people of Buffalo City, to ensure that no maladministration or corruption is at play.”

Ngwenya said they will scrutinise the report and if there is any foul play, they will act as prescribed in the Municipal Finance Management Act, including the involvement of law enforcement agencies. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Robert Pegg says:

    As a long time resident and former Chief Fire Officer of East London (Buffalo City) I, like many residents of this once beautiful city, cannot believe the deterioration that is evident everywhere. To waste R100m on this small section of the beachfront is beyond words. Who will actually benefit from this development ? There is no beach to visit, as can be seen in the photos. Who’s idea was it in the first place ? Don’t answer that if you value your life. I could see the demise of East London over 20 years ago and left for Durban. Durban is going the same way, so where next. Mauritius is looking good with 15% business tax instead on 27% I’m paying now. I wouldn’t mind paying 27% if it wasn’t wasted by greedy politicians and government officials.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Well, the one image is an artist’s expression, – the other reality.
    Never the two shall intertwine.

  • Simon Schaffer says:

    And the corrupt ANC feasts on the proceeds of another ‘project’ designed for looting and crime. From liberation movement to criminal organisation. How do we sit by and do nothing…??

  • Mkili Muzenha says:

    It is a disgrace that people of East London continue to stomach that sort of poor administration from the ANC…and poor is an understatement.

    No where else you will find a municipality building “Stoep” that costs R100m and its residents doing nothing about it.

    East London citizens are getting the government they deserve.

    Once a beautiful CBD has become like the CBD one used to see when driving through the former Transkei towards Durban.

    Marina Glen, a place that used to have beautiful facilities for the whole family is not a stinking piece of junk. You can’t even take your children there.

    Walkways in the Nahoon Nature Reserve/Beach are broken ( and they must rather remain broken because the ANC will fix them for R50m instead of R3m).

    Cambridge and Amalinda, the potholed place that used to be clean.

    Buffalo Pass Road is like you’re driving in a war ravished zone.

    Townships are also not spared because as you drive into Mdantsane from N2, the road is messed up with potholes.

    I can go on the whole day how that place is a mess.

    I will never live in that place again. Worse quality of life.

    The ANC was given keys to a ferrari and look at what they have done to it. And they continue sending it to roadside mechanics, using used tyres on it and putting cooking oil in the engine.

    East London doesn’t even deserve to be called a Metro anymore. Its just a dingy place that used to be beautiful

    • Carl Nielsen says:

      A very sad tale. But I disagree that nowhere else will you see a municipality building a R100m stoep. It might not be a stoep, but you need go no further than any other ANC controlled municipality to find precisely the same waste brought about by incompetence and corruption.

  • homesafesa says:

    The only way forward is an involved civil society . Don’t sit on the side while your rates are misappropriated. Tidy Towns Buffalo City is doing just this . The private public partnership is already assisting with projects like beach amenities . Blue Flag candidacy investigations for beaches . Clean ups and the things we can change together with those committed from Tidy Towns BCM on the ground teams and Border Kei Chamber of business. There is a lit to do and together it can be done . One step at a time

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    Surely the solution is easy: look at what the contractors were supposed to deliver and make them deliver it, even if it means selling the new houses, cars and clothes they bought in the last couple of years with the proceeds of the contract. Also fire, charge, prosecute and imprison the officials who signed off on what is clearly sub-standard workmanship.

  • Lynette Morris-Hale says:

    If one is brought up in an environment that is shabby, one accepts that as the norm, so signing off poor workmanship as acceptable is the result of living in that type of environment.

  • Francois Smith says:

    Only the ANC can be proud of such shoddy over – budget late badly designed project. The excuse is: It is better to do it this way than to have white people do a proper job.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      we always underestimate our power in ballot box lets kick these parasites [not all of them] out just for 5 years maybe they will come back in a different form we are going very fast to be a failed state with high taxes and no service delivery like Venezuela and the likes, we need to smell the stench of corruption engulfing us or cry the beloved country

  • ravigza says:

    The steady stream of maladministration, thievery and skullduggery is par for the ANC course. Everything they touch turns to mould. We need to vote them into oblivion.

  • Ivan Steenkamp says:

    Authorisation easily done.

  • Jayce Moodley says:

    Sadly residents continue to suffer the effects and consequences of maladministration. Lack of expertise to manage such projects should be considered and addressed for future developments. Economic development and upliftment is sorely needed in this area to ensure that the economically deprived residents begin to not only grow but thrive.

  • The sam BCMM that is completely incapable of sending a correct bill. In the last 4 years I haven’y been able to get my R300k account sorted and corrected. I wish the DA would look into that. The beachfront is just another way for them to pocket the money they steal from taxpayers by incorrect billing. Focus on the root of the problem – the ridiculous bills home owners receive!

  • Lulu Tekile says:

    ANC is running this city straight to the graveyard. And it’s exasperating because they keep on getting away with it

  • That’s the problem with our current government. Either nothing gets done. Or when something does get done. It’s costs 100 times more than it should and ends up being done poorly.
    I live in Scottburgh in KZN. The beachfront pool has been broken for years, paving and buildings are starting to look terrible and everything needs some maintenance. But as soon as they actually do anything about it, they will probably pay millions for something that can be done for a few thousand rand. And it will be done poorly

  • nigeljs48 says:

    Is there really any point in calling for probes and forensic investigations – the money has gone, AGAIN. Those getting rich through corruption are unlikely to be brought to court.

  • If they could rob Madiba’s funeral, what would make them think twice before robbing the ratepayers, or fear the forensic investigation? I bet they are working on ways to milk the investigation process of whatever budget will be allocated to it!

  • Penny Philip says:

    And there are township schools without toilets, windows & even roofs. Not to mention the appalling healthcare in the rural areas.

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