DA wants answers as construction of multi-million rand KZN mortuary comes to a standstill

George Mari, MPP Member of the DA in the KZN Legislature The Democratic Alliance has called for answers after a parliamentary reply revealed that construction of a multi-million rand mortuary at the Mahatma Gandhi Hospital has come to a standstill. According to the reply, the project, due for completion in July 2013, came to a halt earlier this year after the contractor went into liquidation. In the same response, KZN Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo confirms that the facility will not be completed on time. This is a crisis situation. The areas north of the city are in desperate need of a proper mortuary and have been waiting many years for this facility. It will enable pathologists to perform post mortems, thereby easing the current burden on state mortuaries such as Gale Street mortuary which are under immense strain. Staff morale is low and personnel have refused to work due to unhealthy working conditions and the stench. The reply also confirms that the contract is worth R68 750 million and that R10 million has already been paid to the contractors, a joint venture between TBP Buildings and Civils and Isiphiwo Trading. The contract has also not been terminated to date as officials from the department of Public Works negotiate with liquidators on a way forward. This is extremely concerning. A total of 17 contractors tendered for this project. Yet the department chose to take on contractors who were not in possession of the required skills or who had risky financial positions. This situation is all too familiar. The on-going appointment of contractors who do not have the right credentials is seriously undermining delivery and a far stricter screening process is needed. The DA calls on KZN’s Health MEC to immediately terminate the contract based on non- performance. The contract must be re-awarded to the next favourable contractor – one which has the capacity to deliver – so that this essential facility can be completed.

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