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Forum threatens to shut down R187m project

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“This is state property that should not be sold at a profit. Community members are using the roof beams to build their shanties.”

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MEMBERS of the Northern Cape Progressive Business Forum burnt tyres outside the abandoned Redirile Primary School in Galeshewe yesterday morning in protest over the appointment of a Johannesburg contractor to build a R187 million state-of-the-art school on the site.

Lawrence Letsebele, from the Northern Cape Progressive Business Forum, said that they had given the Department of Education and the main contractor seven days in which to include local contractors on the project.

“If they do not give in to our demands, we will shut down this project. The MEC for Education and the premier must intervene,” said Letsebele.

“The school aims to attract pupils from town to attend a township school where it would be equipped with a science laboratory, swimming pool and hostel.”

He believed that the project should be broken up into smaller units, where local contractors could also be employed.

“The same contractor who is not contributing towards the local economy is continually being awarded big projects by the department. Provincial government is supposed to give 30 percent of state projects to local contractors. We also want to be included in the project so that we can call it our own.”

Letsebele added that building materials from the structures that were being demolished were being sold at night.

“This is state property that should not be sold at a profit. Community members are using the roof beams to build their shanties.”

The spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Education, Geoffrey van der Merwe, said that the department had appointed the Independent Development Trust (IDT) as the implementing agent for the construction of the new state-of-the-art Rederile Primary School, which will be constructed at a cost R187 million.

“All due processes in terms of tender procedures were followed and CTM Construction was duly appointed as the main contractor. The contract makes provision, according to the guidelines and regulations in line with National Treasury, that at least 30 percent of the contract value must be subcontracted to local businesses,” said Van der Merwe.

He explained that the department and the IDT were in the process of unbundling the scope of work in order to divide it into segments for local businesses.

“We handed over the site in May to the contractor. The existing school building will not be demolished as alterations and extensions will be done. The department is responsible for the payment of the contractor through IDT based on work that is complete.”

Van der Merwe said that once complete, the mega school would be able to accommodate 1 000 pupils.

“It will have state-of-the-art facilities such as swimming pools, a cafeteria, amphitheatre, science labs … to mention a few.

“The department is busy engaging the Northern Cape Progressive Business Forum to find an amicable solution to their demands,” Van der Merwe concluded.

– Sandi Kwon Hoo