17 April 2018

South Africa: Colchester's Roads Still in a Mess, Six Months After Contractor Was Fired

Before the municipality started upgrading their streets, residents of Colchester, outside Port Elizabeth, could access their driveways by vehicle. The project was expected to run from March to June 2017, but the road contractor, Magma Civils, was fired in September 2017.

Mounds of earth remain, blocking entry to homes, and a trench down Zebra Road fills with muddy water. Workers say they were not paid their salaries after the company's contract was withdrawn.

Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality cited poor performance as the reason for terminating the R4.6-million contract to upgrade a number of roads in Colchester, Ikamvelihle and Wells Estate.

Resident Welile Gqunta, 65, says, "Our streets were easily accessible before this project started. When it rains the trench gets filled up with water. We have to lock our children in houses to prevent them from playing in the muddy water."

Mayoral spokesperson Sibongile Dimbaza said the municipality was appointing a backup contractor to be "on site within the next month" and the project would be finished by August.

Lee-Chen Humphreys, 20, who was employed by Magma Civils as a general hand, says, "We were relieved when the project started because many people were employed for the first time in their lives." But in the end, Humphreys says, some were not paid their full wages.

Christopher Jonkers worked for two months as a general worker and he was paid, but his father was not. Jonkers' sister, Alcodene, says, "No one is [now] working in our family. We are a family of ten members."

GroundUp could not reach Magma Civils for comment.

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