BCC abandons cremator stuck in SA

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has resolved to abandon its cremator which has been stuck in Durban, South Africa for many years after successive efforts to secure its release apparently hit a brick wall.

In 2013, BCC, awarded Masen Engineering (PVT LTD), a contract to supply, install and commission a cremator for the West Park Crematorium after only two bidders responded to the advert.
The total tender price then was US$121 400 with the local authority paying the company US$ 97 120 which was 80 percent of the tendered price as advance payment.

Masen later reportedly imported the cremator from Japan. The duration of the contract was four months but the engineering company failed to pay duty leading to the cremator being impounded in 2016 in South Africa while on transit to Zimbabwe by South Africa’s Revenue Services (SARS).

Since then, efforts to get its release has been hitting a brick wall, with the matter running in courts. However, according to the latest BCC confidential report, SARS lawyers recently wrote to BCC demanding the local authority to pay up before October 6 2022, or get the cremator deposited.

This however jolted the city management into action, as they set down to seek the way forward on the matter.

The report further indicated that at the time of the meeting the cremator in question had accrued storage costs of up to R1 1907, 63, a figure which the contractor advised the management against paying.

“Management was approached by the contractor (Masen Engineering) and he advised that it was not such a wise decision to pay that amount to SARS in order to facilitate the release of the cremator which was now obsolete.

“His advice was that a new cremator could cost council close to a million Rand and the storage money could money could be used to buy a new cremator. He further advised that in his opinion council should just abandon that cremator because of the costs and the fact that some of the components of the cremator which were in the container were no longer usable,” reads the report in part.

After the deliberations with the city fathers, the local authority resolved “That council abandon the cremator to avoid paying further charges but instead a court application for the recovery of the US$97 120 deposit which was paid to Masen Engineering Pvt Ltd.”

This however comes at a time there has been a low uptake of cremation despite the local authority encouraging its residents to take up the idea as a substitute to conventional burial in a bid to limit the fast reduction of burial space in the city.

The city has only been relying on one cremator situated at West Park cemetery.

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