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Nursing accommodation another ‘catastrophe’

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Subcontractors have expressed concerns that the nursing student accommodation being constructed on the R31 road is reminiscent of the Kimberley Mental Health Hospital debacle.

Students cannot move into the newly-built nursing accommodation because of electricity problems. Picture: Soraya Crowie

SUBCONTRACTORS have expressed concerns that the nursing student accommodation being constructed on the R31 road is reminiscent of the Kimberley Mental Health Hospital debacle.

The hospital project, which spanned 13 years, experienced cost overruns from an initial budget of R290 million to an astonishing R2 billion. Additionally, four different contractors were involved in the construction process.

According to a subcontractor, they are awaiting payment of retention fees for the two contractors who reportedly left the project due to non-payment. Meanwhile, a third contractor is expected to start work on phase two of the project.

“We were approached by the third contractor, but we are looking for other opportunities because we were not paid by the previous contractors and had to write off our debts,” the subcontractor said.

The subcontractors also stated that a final certificate of completion could not be issued due to plumbing and electrical problems and leakages.

“The electricity has not been connected although construction appears to be complete and a generator will apparently be used to supply the accommodation blocks with electricity.

“The neighbouring Kimberley Mental Health Hospital is constantly struggling with electricity problems due to the power station that is being vandalised and cable theft is rife, while the generator experiences problems,” they added.

Security guards stationed at the nursing accommodation site have to brave the elements in the dark, without anything to shelter them from the cold.

The Department of Health said it was working hard to resolve the electricity problems at the accommodation site. Picture: Soraya Crowie

Northern Cape Department of Health spokesperson Lulu Mxekezo said the main contractor completed phase one of construction, including two clusters and five blocks each of the nursing college accommodation, on March 31.

“The first section was completed and handed over through a mandatory practical completion process by September 30, 2023. In other words, this was a sectional project by contractual agreement,” said Mxekezo.

She stated that student nurses could not be accommodated yet because of the electricity challenges.

“A practical completion certificate cannot be issued for the first phase because of unavailable electricity.”

Mxekezo said that payments to service providers were up to date, except for payments concerning practical completion of the section completed by March 31.

“The final account can only be finalised once the building is commissioned, empowered by a practical completion certificate.”

She explained that a practical completion certificate was issued for the first section that was handed over on September 30, 2023.

Mxekezo indicated that the nursing college accommodation and the Northern Cape Mental Health Hospital shared the same sub-station.

“The electricity feeder supplies the whole precinct of the Department of Health, including the Emergency Medical Services College and Social Development Department that are in close vicinity.

“The department is working hard together with all stakeholders to resolve the electricity challenge so that the nursing students can move in as soon as possible.”

The nurses accommodation site will most likely be powered by a generator. Picture: Soraya Crowie
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