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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist

Waste collection crisis in Ekurhuleni

Main contractor reportedly did not pay sub-contractors, as city has not paid it.

Waste management in Ekurhuleni has reached crisis point, with the main contractor Waste Partners having informed sub-contractors it was not yet in a position to pay them.

This has fuelled fears among residents of a repeat of uncollected rubbish in the past weeks – a matter the ANC-Economic Freedom Fighters coalition has not been able to resolve – amid allegations of political interference in the appointment of service providers and rampant corruption.

While The Citizen has seen a letter from Waste Partners to its waste collection sub-contractors, sources within Ekurhuleni told The Citizen of political influence in the bid adjudication committee.

‘Panel there to serve politicians’

“The panel is there to serve the interests of politicians, not appointing competent people with expertise,” said one source.

Ekurhuleni spokesperson Zweli Dlamini confirmed there was no waste collection in the past weeks “due to a misunderstanding around payment issues”.

He said Waste Partner – which serves a sizable portion of the city – was awarded a lucrative R18 million waste management contract, covering Tembisa, Thokoza, mini sites, cluster of Vosloorus and Benoni areas.

The company was also awarded contracts for two informal settlements sites in Tembisa and Germiston.

“The cluster of informal settlement contract was just awarded in December, with the mini site expiring end of June,” said Dlamini.

Despite community-based companies (CBC) denying there was real empowerment in the city’s CBC policy, Dlamini maintained: “The policy still exists, with all contracts being compelled to share 30% of their contracts to the CBC.”

‘The idea was to get together and form a huge contract’

Waste Partner says in its website that it is “a 100% black-owned company, which was formed in 2006”.

“We are an employer, supplier and customer of choice. We are well-known for our excellent quality service in the fields of waste management, plant hire and sanitation.”

But for destitute CBC member Johannes Rampaku, life is not all that rosy being a sub-contractor of Waste Partner.

“When they [Ekurhuleni] gave us an opportunity to become CBCs – here in Palm Ridge, Tembisa or Vosloorus – the idea was that we would get together to form a huge contract because we had trucks,” he said.

“While, in terms of the 2021 policy under mayor Mzwandile Masina, they would spread the contract to benefit everyone, that never happened. They decided to give this to one contractor. I sub-contracted under Waste Partner – not reaping any benefits.

“I had a truck when I applied to become a service provider – with a promise that I would become a JV (joint venture) partner.

“Ekurhuleni would give you a contract, telling you that you have to buy UD trucks.

“The municipality would pay the main contractor, who would pay me R30 000, and I would share that with my other partner, taking home R15 000.

“From 2016 to 2021, we found the project close to ending. When the contract ended, they just said ‘we would give you your truck back’ – end of the economic empowerment of CBCs.

“The main contractor has now been given the tender and we have four months without any salary. Waste Partner says there is no money from Ekurhuleni.”

– brians@citizen.co.za

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