The repair of cracks in the chamber was one of the issues that would be attended to when construction and repairs commence today.
WORK to repair the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature (NCPL) precinct is expected to resume today, where renovations have been ongoing on a stop-start basis for the past two years.
The executive manager of committees, research, information services, public education and communication, Nathalia Borchard, has promised to report any irregularities or elements of fraud to the relevant authorities.
She indicated that the repair of cracks in the chamber was one of the issues that would be attended to when construction and repairs commence today.
Borchard stated that the Office of the Speaker received a request from Nehawu to investigate the alleged mismanagement of funds relating to the project.
“The correspondence contains accusations of mismanagement. The Speaker is currently gathering all the information on the process and the awarding of the contract and is looking into the matters raised in the correspondence. If the facts point to financial mismanagement, the Speaker will further investigate.
“The latest total value of the project, including all approved variations, amounts to R28 million. Included in the contract amount is a budget for electrical installations amounting to R5,1 million of which R4,6 million was certified for payment by the project engineers.”
She said that following a complaint from Nehawu in April this year, the Secretary of the Legislature conducted a preliminary investigation to verify the amounts paid for electrical installations.
“The project engineers were given an opportunity to respond to the allegations and have stated that an amount of R1,8 million was billed but not completed. This was the first time that the legislature became aware of an over-payment.
“The Secretary has forwarded the information related to the over-payment to the NCPL legal services section to institute recovery procedures in terms of the contract.”
She pointed out that, at this stage, the only irregularity that could be detected was the over-payment. “Whether this irregularity constitutes fraud will be confirmed through legal advice. Currently the NCPL is treating the irregularity as a breach of contract and is applying the contractual remedies available.”
Borchard explained that while it was standard practice in the building industry to include advance interim payments and recover it from the final account, it was not considered acceptable under the financial legislation governing the Legislature.
“For this reason the Secretary views it as an amount to be recovered. The NCPL is currently holding R2,2 million in retention against which any over-payment can be claimed.”
She added that, according to their records, R21,6 million was paid out to the contractor.
“These payments were made over the course of 12 payment certificates, which were duly signed off by the principal agent (engineer) and the quantity surveyor.”
She said that payments were made for preliminary and general work, new work, repairs, renovations, electrical and mechanical work and a small portion of the external works in the patlelo area, building materials and value added tax.
Borchard acknowledged that there were periods of inactivity on site.
“The main reason was the contractors’ lack of cash flow which impacted negatively on the project. Numerous discussions took place to try and remedy the situation.”
She also stated that the NCPL provides the basic utilities, including toilet paper, for staff.
“All the necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the building is reasonably safe. An updated report has been compiled regarding the occupational health and safety of the building.”
Borchard added that work done on the patlelo included removal of the concrete surface bed, preparing of the surface to receive new waterproofing (debigum) and installing debigum.
“Lightweight concrete must be laid followed by the layering of a new concrete surface to complete the patlelo area. Only around R200 000 was paid for the work done so far for the patlelo area and not R1 million. Flooding of the basement area was as a result of some rainwater seeping through the patlelo in areas where the waterproofing had worn out.