Council debate over electricity provider

Ndlambe council debated giving an electricity service provider a 10-year contract at the recent council meeting.

Ndlambe’s previous 15-year maintenance contract with Manelec has expired. The infrastructure directorate advertised the service for a five-year period, but it was later realised a five-year contract would not be suitable for the operational requirements and relative investment required to render the service, so the municipality changed the recommended contract to 10 years.

The municipality published a notice inviting public comments on the draft contract and availed contract/tender documents for comments. The public participation process was opened for a 60-day period ending on December 27.

Ward 9 councillor Stwiga Njibana expressed reservations about giving a 10-year contract to Manelec, or any service provider.

“We are paying money to Manelec to fix street lights that aren’t fixed. But they say they are,” Njibana said.

“Management must explore if this service cannot be done internally. We are paying another service provider for a job Manelec should have done. We can provide jobs to people if we can do this internally.”

In response, DA councillor in Ward 9, Skura Venene, said: “I’m glad you brought this up. But you need to look at the list of all the SMMEs [small, medium and micro enterprises] who did jobs for us. They were paid. Did they do the job?”

Venene said the municipal administration had done its job, but councillors need to have an oversight role on work done in their wards.

Speaker Vivian Maphaphu said the ANC caucus had agreed to refer the item back to the administration.

DA caucus leader Ray Schenk asked: “Why do we need to refer it back? Part 2 in the recommendation takes care of it [it states that the tender/contract document be approved subject to effecting necessary amendments as per received comments].

“The bid committee must take notes of comments made here.”

Finance director Michael Klaas explained the situation to council.

“The Municipal Finance Management Act requires any contract over three years has to be opened to public participation. We did that and we incorporated comments in the proposed contract,” Klaas.

He said Manelec provided electricity to Port Alfred town, Thornhill, Alexandria and Wentzel Park.

“We can’t measure Manelec’s performance with regards to streetlights in the township. It’s up to the administration to keep those lights burning.

“The township is provided directly by Eskom, but the municipality owns the streetlights and Manelec is hired to do repairs and maintenance,” he said.

“We must consider the contract in light of what I have explained.”


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