Unpaid contractors block central Gqeberha with garbage trucks and water tankers

The municipality agreed to pay service providers by next week

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A garbage truck blocking Govan Mbeki Avenue, outside the City Hall, on Tuesday in Gqeberha. Photo: Joseph Chirume.

Garbage trucks and water tankers blocked roads in central Gqeberha near the mayor’s offices on Tuesday as more than 15 contractors to Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality demanded payment, some of it owing for over two years.

The contractors clean up illegal dumping sites, provide additional garbage compactors for refuse collection, and also provide water tankers.

Winston Marais, spokesperson for the contractors, told GroundUp that they are owed millions of rands by the municipality.

“Some of the payments due to the contractors are outstanding since January 2022. We have had numerous meetings with the metro officials over the past two years, but they keep on promising to uphold their promises and never do that,” said Marais.

One contractor, speaking to GroundUp, blamed the “successive coalition governments” for the confusion around payments. He said with each administration came different payment requirements.

“I know of some contractors who are owed a lot of money for work they did some five years ago … Officials at the municipality tell them they have lost their invoices. We have held several meetings that raised high expectations but in the end nothing happens,” he said.

In a statement the municipality said there had been delays in the verification of services and invoicing for work done, constraints on available funds, and other administrative issues.

Mayco member for budget and treasury Buyelwa Mafaya said services were being commissioned without the necessary budgetary confirmation, and this must stop “no matter what pressure we are under”.

“We would like to apologise to the public and businesses who suffered because of these blockages. We can confidently say now that we are on the same page with the contractors and we will be working as a team going forward,” said Mafaya.

Marais said contractors removed the trucks after the municipality had agreed to pay them next week. He said it would be back to business as usual on Wednesday, except that water trucks would not be operating until payment is received.

“If this matter is not resolved by next week, then we will block the roads again,” he warned.

TOPICS:  Local government Sanitation Water

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