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Building of schools, clinics go on for years

Host of problems to blame for delays

The partially built Simunye Secondary School in Bekkersdal, Westonaria.
The partially built Simunye Secondary School in Bekkersdal, Westonaria.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

The Gauteng department of infrastructure development has failed to complete 48% of the projects that it started five years ago.

Of the 144 projects started in 2019, only 76 are complete. 

This was revealed in the departments third quarterly report, which was presented in the provincial legislature last Thursday.

In her presentation, DID researcher Nthabiseng Seroba said: “In totality, the department has achieved 76/144 (52%) of its five-year time capex.

The 52% performance comes with [an] estimated budget of R16,240,230 that has been spent by the department]. Of the expenditure R204,951,000 was registered as irregular expenditure to date.

Seroba said this was the last year of the sixth administration, adding that the department was expected to have concluded its plans. 

It is important for the committee to note that the department is still struggling with the completion of infrastructure projects in which some of them have been going on for many years. It is imperative that projects are of good quality to ensure longevity but moreover, it is imperative that a comprehensive maintenance plan is in place to secure longevity of the infrastructure, Seroba said.

Simunye pupils still have to use container classrooms that have been there for 29 years .
Simunye pupils still have to use container classrooms that have been there for 29 years .
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

However, on Wednesday, the DAs spokesperson on infrastructure development Alan Fuchs said residents continued to battle to access basic services due to the departments inefficiency.

Fuchs said that in the days leading to premier Panyaza Lesufis state of the province address earlier this month, oversight visits to infrastructure projects demonstrated that projects were running late, with some schools and clinics taking five to eight years to complete.

He said according to the department, projects were not completed on time due to poor stakeholder engagement with communities, poor project management and poor inter-departmental coordination.

Other reasons include poor workmanship, contractors continuously terminated because of poor quality of work, and delays in procurement.

In 2017, the Gauteng administration prioritised 15 projects as part of the integrated infrastructure master plan. To date, not a single project has been brought to fruition, with most of them not even having started, Fuchs said.

The plight of the delays has left many communities hopeless.

The construction of the New Simunye Secondary School in Bekkersdal on the West Rand was meant to start in May 2022 after R123m was allocated for the new building to accommodate 1,300 pupils. The school had been using ship containers since it was established 29 years ago.

The construction only started in November 2022 after the contractor received designs from the project manager. The completion was meant to happen in October last year but, according to the contractor and the school governing body, the project manager delayed processing invoices. The project was also marred by protests by locals who sought employment. The constructors site office was also burgled in October. 

Contractor, Themane Management Consulting (TMC), said it would not meet the new deadline of next month and would finish the school at the end of June as the school is 55% complete. 

The delay is not only a frustration to the department but it also affects the teachers, parents and pupils who expressed their frustrations learning in ship containers that are falling apart. 

“It’s painful to be a learner here, because you have to balance the heat in your classroom with defecation when the septic truck comes and collects defecation. Some days it comes before break, and the whole school would smell,” said a grade 9 pupil.

SGB chairperson Billy Nkabinde said parents were frustrated and angry and some were even suggesting that the pupils should be relocated to the incomplete building.

Nkabinde said he was not confident that they would finish this year.

DID spokesperson Alfred Nhlapo said they would assess the progress and then decide whether to cancel the contract with TMC or not.

Another project that is still incomplete in Gauteng is Semphato Secondary School in Tshwane where pupils study in mobile classrooms. The project was initially expected to be completed by the end of March 2023, but it has been extended to July 2024.

 


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