Health Dept has eye on builders

2013-08-09 00:00

IN an effort to speed up spending on infrastructure programmes, the KZN Health Department is cracking the whip on under-performing contractors.

The department is faced with slow performance by some contractors.

In a report to the health portfolio committee earlier this week, the department said it had asked the implementing agent, the Public Works Department, to terminate the contract of a contractor involved in the upgrade of the psychiatric ward at Edendale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg.

The R6,5 million project was started in October 2012 and was scheduled for completion in July 2013. But currently only 28% is complete.

“The contract duration has lapsed and the cancellation needs to be instituted,” senior manager for infrastructure development Bongi Gcaba said, adding that Public Works has been asked to terminate the contract with the unnamed contractors.

The department has also asked for the termination of a contract at the Edendale Hospital’s R84 million accident and emergency unit, where work was scheduled to be completed within 15 months.

The project started in October 2012. “The contractor is very unco-operative. The site has twice been closed due to lack of compliance with health and safety requirements,” Gcaba said.

Gcaba also said an investigation has been launched into terminating two contracts pertaining to upgrade work at King Dinizulu Hospital, due to the contractors awarded the projects experiencing cash-flow problems.

The two projects include the R68 million construction of a new 130-bed psychiatric hospital and the construction of a R78 million new TB complex, among other things. Armstrong Construction, which was awarded these two projects, was liquidated in January 2013, months after it won the tender for the psychiatric hospital in January 2012 and the TB complex in September 2012 respectively. Although Civicon Construction was appointed as a replacement company, its holding company Erbacon has applied for business rescue.

Committee chairperson Maggie Govender said there was a serious risk of under-spending if the department did not act against under-performing contractors.

Govender said the spending, particularly at Edendale and King Dinizulu hospitals, which were allocated a combined R1,9 billion for infrastructure, needed to be speeded up.

• mayibongwe.maqhina

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