The upgrading of a multimillion-rand road in Mpumalanga has come to a grinding halt because more than R20million allocated to the project has gone missing.
Sowetan has learnt that work on the Lefiso-Marapyane road at KwaMhlanga stopped three weeks before last month's general elections because money for the project disappeared from the coffers of the provincial roads department. As a result, the department will not meet its deadline to complete the R45 million project.
No workers were seen on site yesterday and donkeys and cows were wandering on the road.
Worker Simon Boshomane said that his manager had told him and his co-workers not to report for work until further notice as there was no money to pay them.
"Since then no one has contacted us as to when we can expect to resume work," he said.
Another worker, Moses Maphalla, also said he was told there was no money to pay them.
But spokesperson for the provincial department of roads and transport David Nkambule said the department was not aware of these allegations. "The project is still on track and within the approved budget. But we will investigate all the allegations."
Last year, the labour department delayed work for three months because the government-appointed construction company, Manto Consulting Engineers, had not complied with the Occupational Health and Safety Act as workers had not been provided with protective clothing.
The contract to upgrade the 14km stretch of road has been divided into two, with 7km being constructed internally, while work on the other 7km has been outsourced.