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