The streets of Johannesburg, including in some of the richest suburbs of the economic heart of SA, were left with bins full of rubbish for almost a week after the city failed to renew on time a multimillion-rand contract with Avis SA, the vehicle-rental company in the Barloworld group.

Mayor Herman Mashaba, who was elected as the DA’s first mayor after the 2016 local government elections, having run on a ticket of improving governance, has emphasised cleaning up the city.

This includes his monthly city-wide cleaning campaign in which residents are encouraged to join in.

In recent months the city has looked worse for wear as Pikitup, the city’s entity which is responsible for keeping it clean, suffered setbacks.

Disruptions in service delivery started earlier in 2018 when protesters demanded to be appointed as part of 1,400 workers insourced from external service providers.

The protests escalated, with the violence prompting metro police to escort Pikitup’s workers in September.

The removal disruptions that occurred last week were due to the bungled renewal of a contract. Environment and infrastructure services MMC Nico de Jager told Business Day they only realised the month-to-month contract had expired on October 1, when workers arrived to pick up the rental garbage compactor vehicles and were told they could not use them.

The permanent contract expired in October 2017 and has not been renewed.

De Jager said that it was not Pikitup’s responsibility to renew the contract because contracts were dealt with centrally by the city’s group corporate and shared services department.

Heads must roll over the oversight that led to Pikitup not having a full fleet of vehicles to operate with, De Jager said.

He has called for an investigation into how it occurred that the crucial contract, which costs the city about R23m a month, was not renewed on time.

De Jager said the situation was dealt with when the city met Avis on Friday, and the provider agreed to renew the contract on a month-to-month basis until a permanent contract was signed with a new provider. De Jager lamented the costs of renting Pikitup’s fleet, saying a new fleet could have been bought considering the costs of the contract, which was agreed to by the former government that was led by the ANC.

Luyanda Lunika, spokesman for group corporate and shared services said the contract was extended on a month-to-month basis for a period that did not exceed two months to allow for a bid process for a permanent deal to be finalised.

Lunika said that the department is in the process of finalising the terms of reference for the tender to be advertised.

According to Lunika, the department has already started disciplinary inquiries against officials who were entrusted with ensuring that the contract is renewed on time.