Residents suspect corruption over R1.6m Eastern Cape bridge contract

“My RDP house is worth more than this bridge”

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The Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality says the reconstruction of this pedestrian crossing was done at a cost of R1.6 million during lockdown but community members are not convinced that the concrete structure could cost that much. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Residents in KwaNobuhle have raised the alarm over a newly rebuilt foot bridge they say costs nowhere close to the R1.6 million the municipality says it spent on the project.

The community battled for over a decade to have a bridge erected at the crossing to Khayelitsha after the original bridge collapsed 15 years ago. The bridge was rebuilt during the national lockdown.

Mayoral committee member for Roads and Transport in Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality Rosie Daaminds, told GroundUp that the bridge was complete, but when probed on its current state and the cost of the project, she said a few additions, like a railing, would be added soon.

“There will be additional accessories to enhance the bridge. We built it at a budget of R1.6 million and the rails will be erected soon. Residents should expect more to be done on this bridge,” she said.

Residents have been demanding answers from the municipality. The bridge is only meant for pedestrians but the community says vehicles also use it. They also complained that the new bridge was much lower than the first one, which could be dangerous for pedestrians crossing during heavy flooding.

Resident Siyabonga Makuleni said: “My RDP house is worth more than this bridge. It is like a stoep.”

Mncedisi Gxekwa of non-profit organisation, Makukhanye Rural Movement, said: “The bridge is worse than before. The construction of the bridge was an opportunity to loot by local people.”

Gxekwa said there was no signage at the bridge to indicate that construction was still underway.

“We wrote a series of invitation letters to Councillor Nomsa Booi (ANC) for a meeting with her and her leadership, and the agenda was the project plan for this bridge. However, our efforts were in vain. The end product of the bridge is worse than before and we are disgusted by the manner in which our local municipality is rotten with corruption by using taxpayers’ money,” he said.

Booi said the bridge was in phase one and more would be done to improve it. She said the two local businesses had benefited from the project under the main contractor.

GroundUp spoke to a contractor on condition of anonymity who estimated the total costs of the bridge to be about R300,000.

Before lockdown, local contractors in the ward fought over the tender to construct the bridge. The ANC’s Regional Task Team intervened as the mediators.

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