Fight over MyCiTi contracts

Community liaison officer Albert Bobotyana says there is corruption involved in the new MyCITI feeder routes project.

A scramble for work opportunities spawned by the new MyCiTi project in the Blaauwberg area is causing division and infighting in Joe Slovo Park.

Construction firm Civils 2000 is building three new MyCiTi feeder routes: Route 260 from Summer Greens to Woodbridge Island, route 261 from Omuramba Station to the Adderley Street Station and route 262 from Century Gate to Century City.

According to the City of Cape Town, the value of the contract to build infrastructure for Phase 1B of the MyCiTi service is about R102 million. The project is due to be complete towards the end of the year, if all goes to plan.

It’s a major investment in the area, but the tussle by local sub-contractors for a piece of the pie has led to bad blood.

Community liaison officer on the MyCiTi project, Albert Bobotyana, has accused several City officials, including Steven Otter, head of communications at Transport for Cape Town (TCT), and a local non-profit organisation called Inneed Projects SA of being in cahoots to monopolise sub-contracts.

“Mr Otter and Inneed Projects SA, led by Luthando Lekevana, Gift Matebese, Elliot Jiba and Sugar Nginaza, are preventing local sub-contractors from Joe Slovo Park to be interviewed freely and fairly by Civils 2000. Recently, Civils 2000, two City officials and Inneed Projects SA had interviews at a library for sub-contractors. No other sub-contractor companies from Joe Slovo Park were informed about the interviews. They were left in the dark,” said Mr Bobotyana.

He said that last month Civils 2000 had asked him to arrange interviews with sub-contractors in Joe Slovo but the interviews were short-lived when Inneed Projects SA’s members stopped the interviews and demanded Mr Otter sit in on them.

“The City does not have to be present at these meetings, but they know if Mr Otter is there, they will get the jobs and other companies will be kicked out,” he said.

Mr Bobotyana also said the City had tried to “chase away” people from Rugby, Summer Greens, Brooklyn and Dunoon from working on the project.

“This is a multi-ward project, and that means involving all the people from the Milnerton area. Top officials and Inneed Projects SA have no right to chase people from surrounding areas away,” he said.

South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) chairman Godfrey Jonas said he could not comment about the City because of the interdict it secured against the Sanco leadership earlier this year. Sanco was still trying to sort matters out in court and he did not want to jeopardise the case (“Interdict to halt MyCiTi damage”, Tabletalk, March 30).

But he said the leaders of Inneed Projects SA were selfish and did not have the community’s best interests at heart.

“These are previous leaders of Sanco who were voted out by the community because they were not satisfied. They don’t follow proper procedure. If they see an opportunity, they just jump in,” said Mr Jonas.

Luthando Lekevana, one of the six directors of Inneed Projects SA admitted that they wanted City officials present at all interviews but denied that they demanded it be Mr Otter.

“We wanted City officials present at interviews because we believe Mr Bobotyana does not want us to benefit from this project. We follow all process fairly,” said Mr Lekevana.

He said accusations about Inneed and City officials preventing people from surrounding areas from working on the project were false.

While it was true that Civils 2000 and the City had met with Inneed Projects at the library, that was only because Mr Bobotyana was making it difficult for interviews to take place at the offices of Civil 2000.

“The City called us and said they wanted to interview three companies belonging to Inneed Projects SA. From those three, only one was chosen and we don’t have a problem with that because the interviews were fair,” he said.

Tabletalk sent questions to the City, asking Steven Otter to respond to the accusations made against him, but he was not able to respond as the City’s internal policy only allows its official TCT spokesman Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport, to do so.

Mr Herron said the allegations against the officials from TCT could not be “further from the truth”.

“Joe Slovo Park has been a particularly challenging area to work in and around, mainly due to the often very aggressive factional infighting among the leadership who is representing the community. Inneed Project leaders have also threatened violence against City-officials and the Sanco leadership.

“The leadership groupings of both Inneed Projects and Sanco regard themselves as the only legitimate leadership representing the community. However, Transport for Cape Town has remained inclusive by involving both leadership groupings in decisions affecting the community and will continue to do so in future,” said Mr Herron.

He said officials from TCT had included the leadership from both Inneed Projects and Sanco in decisions affecting the community and they had done everything possible to be inclusive and would continue to do so.

“The contractor interviewed potential subcontractors at the Brooklyn library with two City officials observing the process. Both Inneed Projects and Sanco attempted to force TCT to exclude subcontractors perceived to be aligned to the other faction, hence the two separate interview processes,” said Mr Herron.

Regarding allegations that only workers from Joe Slovo Park had been hired for the project, he said: “It must be noted that Joe Slovo Park and Dunoon have a high prevalence of unemployment and as such these two areas will and must have a higher representation relating to the current Phase 1B feeder services contract.”