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Endless delays in fixing Legislature

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Following in footsteps of mental hospital

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WHILE the handover of the R1.5 billion Kimberley mental health hospital has missed yet another deadline, the refurbishment of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature seems to be following suit, with endless delays, unpaid subcontractors and millions of rand being allocated towards this project.

The MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, during her budget speech last month, was “hopeful” that the new mental hospital would be operational from July 1.

She had mentioned that her department was exploring various means of attaining additional funds for this purpose.

She had stated that poor project management was resulting in service providers being paid late, which in turn contributed to interest being charged on accounts and delays in completion.

The spokesperson for the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, stated yesterday that the MEC would provide an update with regards to the operational plan of the building during a tour of the facility that is planned for later this month.  

Meanwhile, suppliers and subcontractors employed to refurbish the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature precinct have also complained of non-payment, where some service providers have claimed that they have not received a single cent for work completed.

It was indicated that several pleas were made to the chief financial officer, the Speaker of the legislature and the finance unit to intervene in facilitating payment ,where hundreds of thousands of rand worth of invoices are outstanding, yet no response was received from the legislature. 

Some service providers are contemplating taking legal action for non-payment.

Legislature staff were initially told that the refurbishment would only take six months, but it has entered its 19 month of construction due to “unexpected delays”.  

No indication has been given as to when the R30 million tender that was awarded in 2016 will be completed.
A sum of R9 million has been allocated in this year’s budget for the rehabilitation of the precinct from funds that were rolled over from the previous financial year.

In the meantime, the legislature has had to extend its rental agreements with three buildings including the BP Jones building, MetLife Towers and Kimberley Print parking, along with additional cost implications.   

Those closely involved in the project indicated that what was thought to be “cosmetic” repairs, such as paint work and other minor work, turned into major construction work, such as the lifting and resealing of the concrete of the open area referred to as the central patlelo, as no maintenance had been done to the building.

The scope of work included repairs of structural defects, fixing collapsed ceilings, leaks, cracks, plumbing and electrical problems, flooding of the basement, plumbing and the repair of the toilets.

Construction commenced in January 2017 while work was suspended on the repair work in April 2017 due to non-compliance to occupational health and safety regulations, after a prohibition notice was served by the Department of Labour.

The building was originally opened in 2003 at a cost of R88.5 million.