Contractors claim City owes them money

Workers install a water management device.

A Tafelsig father is two months in arrears with his rent and he does not know how he will put food on the table for Eid this week.

For more than three years Ahmad Taqdeer, 37, was a team leader for Newport Water Solutions, contracted by the City of Cape Town to do plumbing, maintenance and install water management devices.

But in January and February he was not paid.

Mr Taqdeer said he had led a team of five men, who also had families to feed and were now furious with him because they have not been paid.

Mr Taqdeer has four children, aged between 17 and 2.

“The little one needs nappies, milk and everything. I don’t know what to do,” he said.

Another team leader, Calvin Lesar, from Eastridge, said he owed some of his team members money.

“I am basically out of pocket R40 000, which I need to use to pay for petrol and the guys, who work for me,” he said.

Mr Lesar said several creditors had threatened to hand him over to debt collectors.

“It hurts that I work in Mitchell’s Plain, which is not the safest area to work in. I put my life on the line. I have been on stand-by for three years now and don’t quite want to leave the industry but I’m not sure what to do,” he said.

Mr Lesar said his dad works and both his parents live with him. “I give them what I can and they make do to have groceries in the house,” he said.

The City must just pay, so that I can pay my bills.”

As the City wraps up comment on the proposed revised approach to domestic metering, which encourages residents to manage their own water usage and will see the roll-out of the latest conventional metering technology – the plumbing maintenance company claims they have not been paid for two months.

This has led to hundreds of their employees being cash strapped and unable to put food on their tables.

They were contracted but were not paid for January and February.

Chantal Ross, Newport Water Solutions business manager, said they were contracted to do maintenance and call-outs on their water meters in the east region, including Mitchell’s Plain, Khayelitsha, Kleinvlei, Wesbank, Eerste River and Mfuleni.

“After successfully concluding a three-year term tender, the City extended our service with them for three months.

“By the end of January 2021, the City paid us for the work we did in December 2020 as usual – but we’ve since not received payment for the work we did in January and February.

“They are now 90 days and 60 days in arrears – and we are at witt’s end trying to keep things together,” she said.

Ms Ross said their team-leaders and teams have not been paid, and could not provide for their basic needs and requirements.

The City told the Plainsman that the matter was with their legal services department and that they could not comment at this stage.