James Masango MPL
Provincial Chief Whip of the Official Opposition
The Mpumalanga Department of Education is set to spend an additional R7-million on the building of a school which was originally estimated to cost R5,2 million, of which R4,7 million has already been spent.
Although the department paid almost in full for the building of the Rorobhani Secondary School in the Thembisile Hani municipality, it has been left with an incomplete, sub-standard building. In a written response to DA parliamentary questions, MEC Reginah Mhaule confirmed that construction of the school commenced in the 2006/07 financial year, but it has yet to be completed as the contractor deserted the site after being paid up-front.
The department has now budgeted an additional R7 million for the completion of the school. As the unfinished school is unusable, the department also had to pay an extra R3,5 million for mobile classrooms to accommodate learners and educators.
The fact that the department will spend three times more than originally planned on one school is completely unacceptable, as these additional funds could have been used to build at least another two schools. Furthermore, the mobile classrooms it is now forced to use could have been used in other overcrowded across the province.
The DA calls on the department to implement corrective measures and strategies to prevent such a situation from recurring:
- Blacklist Lance Management Services CC and all other service providers who have defaulted on their services after being paid;
- Take legal action against the contractor and recover the lost funds;
- Implement stricter measures in the assessment and selection of contractors and service providers; and
- Set progress targets for contractors and pay them as projects progress.
The province has a severe shortage of schools and overcrowding is a huge concern. As long as the provincial education department does not change its approach with the awarding of contracts and continues to be negligent with its funds, our learners will never enjoy the right to quality education.