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Fraud hampers bucket eradication

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It had come to light that in 2013, the Department of Human Settlements appointed the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) to embark on the BEP in the Northern Cape

A BAD smell continues to linger regarding the “messy” Bucket Eradication Programme in the Northern Cape, which has remained hamstrung by a fraudulent multi-million rand contract

According to the DA’s Constituency Head of Hantam and Karoo Hoogland, Gizella Opperman, the contract saw the Province lose out on thousands of toilets that could have eradicated the bucket system backlog in the Northern Cape, once and for all.

“The controversial matter, which has previously made headlines, was back in the spotlight during a Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs committee meeting held in parliament last week, to discuss a forensic investigation into the Ventilated Improved Pit (VIP) toilets in the Northern Cape and Eastern Cape,” Opperman said.

She added that it had come to light that in 2013, the Department of Human Settlements appointed the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) to embark on the BEP in the Northern Cape.

“Siyenza Group, also known as Blue Nightingale, got the bucket eradication tender worth R119 million in the ZF Mgcawu and Pixley Ka Seme municipalities to supply material for prefabricated toilets, both dry and water borne. A similar contract was also later entered into with Siyenza in the Amathole municipality in the Eastern Cape.”

However, while the full amount had already been paid to Siyenza for the Northern Cape contract, MISA withheld payment for the Eastern Cape contract because Siyenza’s tax clearance certificate had expired.

“The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (MISA) was already R185 million out of pocket when they found out that the certificate provided by Siyenza was indeed fraudulent. A criminal case of fraud was opened and the Eastern Cape contract was terminated,” Opperman said, adding that the damage in the Northern Cape had already been done.

“An unknown number of VIP toilets, which are in fact just a fancier type of bucket toilet, worth a hefty R6 000 per unit, had been installed in the Province. So instead of eradicating the bucket backlog, Siyenza directly contributed towards an ever-growing backlog of bucket toilets in the Northern Cape,” Opperman stated.

“This is extremely unfortunate when one considers that the Northern Cape could instead have installed 47 219 dual top water-efficient flush toilets with the money paid.”

Opperman pointed out that according to the Northern Cape Department of Coghsta, 2 212 buckets in formal settlements in the Northern Cape still need to be eradicated as part of the BEP.

“This does not include about

5 310 households on formal stands and approximately 5 658 households on informal stands, that are also using buckets in the province.

“Some of the areas worst affected include Hantam municipality with 582 VIPs and 50 buckets in Brandvlei, Karoo Hoogland with 809 VIPs and 80 buckets in Williston, Sol Plaatje with 2817, Siyancuma with 2 238, and Dawid Kruiper with 2783 buckets.”

She pointed out that buckets and VIPs posed serious health hazards to communities.

“Flies, mosquitoes and bees accompany the stench in the heat of the Northern Cape sun. There have also been numerous incidents whereby residents previously fell into open pit latrines in Loeriesfontein.”

The party has called on the MEC of Coghsta, Bentley Vass, to urgently look into the report that was discussed in parliament and to ensure that, on a provincial level, consequence management was exercised in respect of any officials who may have had a hand in the toilet scam.

“We will also be requesting MEC Vass to update the BEP to include all remaining bucket toilets in both formal and informal settlements. We cannot speak of a bucket eradication project, that leaves more than 10 000 buckets standing once the project is completed.”