Frenic Company sues Gaborone City Council

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Frenic, a local waste management company has sued Gaborone City Council for more than half a million pula for allegedly failing to pay it for services it was contracted to do.

According to Frenic, it was contracted by the city council to perform litter picking and related works in Gaborone West. 

The company claims that it performed the work as agreed in the contract and the council resolved to honour the payment which amounts to P545,000.   "The plaintiff's claim arises out of works performed by it and subsequently ratified by the defendant at its duly constituted meeting," the court papers state.

Frenic is claiming the P545,000 at an interest rate of 10 percent effective from December, 2007. 

In his affidavit, the managing director of Frenic, Nicholas Maswabi said his company entered into a contract with the city in October 2004 where it would provide refuse collection and disposal services.

Maswabi said the council was supposed to pay for the services on a monthly basis.

He recalled that after a while, it was brought to the council's attention that there were certain areas that were not covered specifically by the contract.  He said these areas were hampering their efforts to keep Gaborone West clean.

The concerned areas included roads reserves, open spaces such as playgrounds and storm water side drains.  "A lot of litter was accumulating in those areas and this made the whole place look dirty."   Maswabi said he brought this matter to the attention of council employees who promised to call a meeting and decide over the issue. 

"I was verbally told by the waste management team to work on the areas in question.  I was told since the contract was ongoing the issue would be resolved and my payment would be arranged," he said.

The Frenic director said in April 2007, he wrote a letter to the city clerk regarding payment.  The response was that the council did not owe the company as it had no contractual basis. 

Maswabi said in November 2007, he was informed that the council had resolved that the claim should be paid. 

But he said payment was not effected even after the council had made these promises to him. 

He said the city clerk later wrote him a letter, acknowledging the debt and proposing settlement terms. 

However, the company director said he was later informed that the Directorate on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC) was investigating the claim.  "The involvement of the DCEC surprised me because there was nothing untoward about the claim," he submitted.

He said a few months later he was summoned to the DCEC offices and the officials accused him of giving the former mayor money for petrol and other trivial issues. 

Maswabi said he made phone calls to the DCEC to find out about their investigations but they never came back to him.  He said at some stage, the city clerk wrote a letter to the company lawyers to say the DCEC investigations were at an advanced stage. 

Maswabi said since the matter was never concluded, his company decided to sue the council.  Frenic is one of the waste management companies whose contract with the Gaborone City Council expired in December.  The council did not renew the contracts. 

This is not the first time that a claim of this nature has been made against the Gaborone City Council.  A few years ago, another waste management company, Daisy Loo made a multi-million Pula claim against the Gaborone City Council for failing to pay it for de-bushing around the Segoditshane River.  The matter also ended in court and the council was ordered to honour the payment.However, the state has since instituted criminal charges against the Daisy Loo director and former employees of the Gaborone City Council in connection with the matter.  The protracted criminal case is still pending.

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