By Mariette Pittaway, DA MPL in the Free State Provincial Legislature:
The NCOP delegation had to cancel its scheduled visit to the delayed Trompsburg Hospital since neither the MEC for Health, Benny Malakoane, and the MEC for Public Works, Dora Kotzee, bothered to pitch up for today’s visit.
The DA in the Free State Provincial legislature has fought a long battle to access information surrounding the project. The hospital was originally scheduled to open to serve the communities of the Xhariep District Municipality and the N1 in September 2013 as announced by the late Sisi Mabe who was the then MEC for Public Works.
In reply to a written question submitted to MEC Malakoane last year, he said that the new opening date will July 2015. The NCOP delegation held its oversight meetings adjacent to the new hospital. The brand new building is locked and closed to the public.
The DA hoped that today’s visit to the hospital could shed light on:
- The replacement of the water reticulation pumps at the hospital because the wrong sized pumps were originally ordered and installed;
- The moving of the private hotel entrance opposite the hospital entrance at the government’s expense, due to bad planning. According to the Department of Police, Roads and Transport’s assessment, a hospital’s emergency entrance may not directly face the entrance of another concern. This just indicated poor planning by the Department of Public Works;
- When the hospital will be equipped with medical equipment;
- When medical staff will be appointed and report for duty;
- When the hospital will fully open to serve the community;
- Why the lights in the hospital are burning night and day in empty wards and doctor’s quarters while the country faces an electricity supply crisis.
The absence of both MECs Malakoane and Kotzee today indicates further delays. We can be sure that the hospital will not open anytime soon. The longer the ANC-led provincial government delays the opening of this hospital the longer the people of the Xhariep district will have to suffer at substandard health services or travel to Bloemfontein to access healthcare.
The opening of the hospital is delayed by almost three years and Public Works have overspent on the project by almost a R100 million. The original project cost was almost R286 million. To date the project cost stands at almost R359 million.
We know MEC Malakoane is never available to attend to matters pertaining to public health, but for what reason we can’t continue without him no one knows. The people of the Free State are being denied their constitutional right to access affordable and equitable healthcare, and MEC Malakoane’s denial of the extent of the problems facing his department further exacerbates the health crisis in the province.