SA Infrastructure Projects Update

Pretoria - Gauteng MEC for Economic Development Qedani Mahlangu on Wednesday addressed issues of delayed projects in the province, saying that progress has been made.

Speaking at a briefing at the New Natalspruit hospital that has taken six years to complete, the MEC said that costs in building the nearly complete hospital escalated by R600 million from the initial allocation of R1.1 to R1.7 billion.

"This hospital is actually a case study of why I've insisted on making the completion of high quality projects on time, within budget and scope," she said.

The MEC said elements such as theft, sabotage and vandalism creep in when a project is not completed on time.

"Such project cost escalations are simply an unacceptable drain on public finances and have to stop," said Mahlangu, adding that the Zola/Jabulani hospital is at a completion stage.

The Zola/Jabulani hospital will be wrapped up by the end of April with the cost of the project currently at R685 500 422. Additionally a few weeks ago the Department of Health began advertising key hospital management positions which is a signal of the imminent completion of the facility and its availability in the near future to meet the health care needs of communities in the Soweto area.

On the issue of maintenance of the Premier's official residence, the MEC said the property was relatively old.

"The property was relatively old and has in the past required major refurbishment with some of the challenges being cracks on the walls due to the geological location of the property, which a report by independent consulting engineers described as 'Under-Consolidated, Collapsible and Compressible'.

"Let me at take this opportunity to reinforce MEC Mandla Nkomfe's statement and state again for the record that the Gauteng Provincial Government has no intention or plan to spend R7.5 million over the next 3 years on maintenance of the Premier's official residence," she said.

The R7 million reflected in the third year of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (2015/16 financial year) was the result of erroneous capturing during the budget drafting process.

"The only confirmed budgetary allocation for Ecclestone Drive is the R120 000 allocated for the 2013/14 financial year."

The MEC also turned her attention to the issue that there are a great number of commercial and residential property tenants who are currently not paying market related rentals, and free-loading off the Gauteng government and robbing the public purse of income.

"I am now in a position to announce details of the grace period I announced last week for commercial and residential property tenants currently not paying market related rentals to approach our departmental headquarters at Corner House, Johannesburg, to regularise their statuses.

"The process to negotiate and regularise tenant statuses shall run from the 1st of April to the 31st of May."

This, she said is the first clear signal of the department's intent to rigorously enforce lease conditions and the payment of market related rentals.

On the Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa Secure Care Centre, the original project site was handed over to the then contractor in September 2007. But the contract was terminated in 2009, for non-performance, leaving the project idle for two years, while there was litigation over the contract termination, during which time, vandalism, sabotage and theft occurred.

The initial project cost was R98.9 million in 2007, but already R132 million has since been spent to date. The MEC said that it will take a further R16 million to complete the centre.

Upgrades to the HM Pitje Stadium are almost complete at 95%. The stadium has since been handed over to the City of Tshwane with R121 635 653.93 having been spent on the project. The delays said the MEC were largely due to a halt in construction work to allow for usage during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, and other contractual issues.

Progress on the June 16 Memorial Acre has thus far been unsatisfactory. The department has placed the contractor on terms to better manage performance.