Firm at centre of SIU probe of R85m Moz border wall releases drone footage to prove work has been done
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Durban - THE company at the centre of a Special Investigating Unit (SIU) probe into the awarding of an R85m Mozambique concrete barrier in the uMkhanyakude district in KwaZulu-Natal has hit back at the allegations of impropriety and says it welcomes any investigation into the project.
Zunaid Varyawa Managing Director of ISF Construction and Joint Venture partner Shula Construction, who were awarded a contract to build an 8km wall at the border of Umkhanyakude said they had nothing to hide and has released drone footage to show that work has been done.
This is in relation to claims more than half of the R85 million had been paid to the them despite less than a kilometre of the barrier been constructed by October 2020.
“Our doors remain open to any inquiry,” Varyawa said.
Recently, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a proclamation authorising the SIU to probe the KwaZulu-Natal department of transport on allegations of corruption and maladministration involving a R85m Mozambique concrete barrier project.
The contract was awarded in 2018 for the construction of an 8km concrete wall between the uMkhanyakude municipality and Mozambique to prevent cross-border vehicle hijacking syndicates and human trafficking crimes from occurring.
An October report of the portfolio committee on public works and infrastructure shows only 0.166km of work was completed and “an enormous amount of R48m had already been paid to the contractor”.
However, in a new turn of events, ISF Construction has released drone footage from the construction site to show what work has been done so far.
Varyawa said that 70% of the job was complete and the project was expected to be handed over to the government in October this year.
IOL asked Varyawa’s public relations team to specifically answer whether taxpayers were getting any value for a concrete wall that cost in excess of R10m per km.
In a statement, the company said that building a concrete barrier was complex and required gigantic concrete slabs be built.
“The gigantic concrete slabs referred to as modules are built and then connected similar to a jig-saw puzzle, only this puzzle has 6 000 pieces weighing in at two tons each,” Varyawa said.
“Building is a phased approach and to date we have built 6100 modules, the bulk of the work is building the slabs, for which we relied on 55 locally employed workers,” he said, adding that 4.3km of the wall has been installed to date.
“The ISF Group has over the years built a reputation that is beyond reproach, the quality of our work speaks for itself and to be dragged into what is a very negative light, is completely unfair,” he said.
Varyawa implored investigators to go to their offices and visit the site.
“We wish to put this behind us as soon as possible so that we may conclude our work, and remove this shadow that has been cast over us. In spite of serious delay as a result of Covid-19, we are happy to confirm that the project is well on track for handover within the prescribed timeline and budget,” Varyawa said.
The SIU’s Kaizer Kganyago said the construction had allegedly started despite the legal mandate for the project resting with the public works and infrastructure department.
“The SIU investigation is aimed at determining whether the procurement and payments made in relation to the construction of the barrier were done in a manner that was fair, competitive, transparent, equitable or cost-effective, or contrary to applicable legislation and guidelines issued by the National Treasury or relevant provincial treasury,” he said.
The proclamation authorises the unit to subpoena bank statements and cellphone records, search and seize evidence, question witnesses and recover any unauthorised financial losses suffered by the government.