By Ismail Obaray MPL, DA Northern Cape Spokesperson of Environment & Nature Conservation:
The DA is deeply concerned that the Northern Cape Department of Environment is spending R6 million per year hiring vehicles. This amounts to 5% of the whole Department budget.
The DA is therefore calling for a joint meeting between the Northern Cape Legislature committees for Environment and Conservation, as well as Transport, Roads and Public Works and Provincial Treasury in order to halt the Environment Department from cruising towards disaster, spending this exorbitant amount on renting.
This comes after it emerged that the Environment Department is paying the provincial fleet services R500 000 per month for the use of Land Cruisers in provincial game reserves, rather than buying these vehicles. This adds up to R6 million per year.
During the department’s first quarter performance presentation at the legislature in August this year, former Environment HOD, Denver Van Heerden, said that he suspects the government fleet services is overcharging the department. He conceded that if this situation continues, the department will be in serious trouble and admitted that the department last year received a bail out from Provincial Treasury due to the high costs of the land cruisers.
The DA is concerned that this situation is simply being allowed to continue unabated.
For the current amount being paid to the government fleet service for the use of the Land Cruisers, the department could instead buy itself 12 new Land Cruisers per year. Alternatively, the R500 000 per month is enough to pay off 20 new land cruisers on a 24 month repayment plan.
Given the department’s tiny budget of just R131 million, the current cost of the land cruisers, which translates into almost 5% of the total annual budget of the department, is simply unsustainable. A more affordable plan must be worked out as a matter of urgency.
The DA has today written to portfolio committee chairperson, Fufe Makatong, requesting that a meeting with Environment, Transport and Provincial Treasury be scheduled as a matter of urgency.
The aim of establishing a government fleet service is to provide cost effective transport options in order to save taxpayers money, not to bankrupt departments.