Public Works’ slack performance may have serious repercussions

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

The Department of Public Works Roads and Transport’s inability to stick to and meet its road infrastructure targets is again being questioned following the first quarterly performance report for the 2013/14 financial year.

With the first round of the financial year officially over, the report indicates a lack of efficient implementation by the department which has overachieved in some projects, yet failed dismally in others. Furthermore it has only spent 15% of its transport infrastructure programme budget – 10% less than what it should have spent in the first quarter.

The one area in which the department underperformed was in the maintenance of graded gravel roads. According to its Annual Performance Plan (APP) it was meant to grade 6 250km of gravel road during Quarter 1, but only managed a mere 899km, citing unavailability of plant and equipment as an excuse.

It also failed to meet its completion of infrastructure designs target. The department planned to finish 10, yet not one was completed, giving the excuse that consultants for this initiative were appointed late.

The department’s excuses alone demonstrate a lack of proper planning because one can’t plan and budget for something without having the basics – equipment, staff and contractors to do it.

This situation not only shows the department’s disregard for the resolutions of the house – which approved the given APP – but more worrying is that it can create a knock-on effect on projects that are due to commence later in the financial year. This in turn will create a backlog in road infrastructure construction.

The DA hopes that the department will start following its approved APP and start spending its allocated budget properly, because road infrastructure is the foundation of community and economic development. It’s time that the department takes this responsibility seriously and starts meeting its commitments and public expectations which were created by its promises.