Work on R48-m Harding municipal office block halted by protesters

A business forum in the Harding Central Business District recently disrupted the construction of a new municipal office block amid claims that the appointed contractor had failed to meet their demands.

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Forum members said they only wanted to talk about how the appointed contractor planned to empower local businesses.

The new office block, which is set to cost some R48,1 million, has been met with hostility by some who have questioned how the Umuziwabantu Municipality could afford this when it could not afford a new fire truck or proper water and sanitation for the town.

“We are not against development, but the municipal officials and councillors who make decisions need to prioritise service delivery before anything else. Local companies should also be given opportunities to grow,” said one business owner.

The business forum added that the contractor had started work before meeting with them to discuss how 30 percent of the contract value would be given to local businesses.

The new municipal office block will feature a council chamber, boardrooms, and canteen and will house the municipal manager’s office, community services, corporate services and technical services departments.

Umuziwabantu Municipality spokesman, Nkosi Zwane confirmed the cost of the new office block and said construction had started earlier this month (August) after a contractor was appointed in July.

“The municipality held a meeting with the forum on Tuesday this week at which it was agreed that discussions would take place on a regular basis regarding the forum’s demands and suggestions,” she said.

Mrs Zwane added that during the meeting the forum was told that it was unlawful to disrupt services as well as for contractors to be given a percentage higher than what was stipulated in government legislation.

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Zimasa Mgwili
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