Labour Disputes Delay Construction of R164-Million Sarah Baartman Centre

By Joseph Chirume

Construction of the R164 million Sarah Baartman Remembrance Centre in Hankey, Eastern Cape has been delayed by labour disputes and is several months behind schedule.

Construction started in August 2014 and was expected to be completed in two years. A Department of Arts and Culture Legacy project, the centre had a budgeted cost of R164 million and was expected to create nearly 1,000 skilled and semi-skilled jobs during construction and 134 permanent jobs.

The project was to breathe new life into the little towns of Hankey and Patensie, where the main form of employment is work on citrus farms.

Occupying more than four hectares of land in Baartman’s home town of Hankey, near the site where she has been buried, the centre is to include a museum, archives, a garden, shops, an auditorium, classrooms, and parking. None of these have been completed.

The project has been plagued with work stoppages as workers on the project complain that they are being under paid and paid late. They say they should fall under civil construction and not general construction and earn R250 a day instead of R150 to R180. They argue that they have been building roads at the site.