Bridges? What bridges? ask villagers

2009-09-12 14:08

FOR about two years, villagers around Taung in North West have patiently been waiting for the construction of bridges, which will serve as a lifeline between them and survival, to be completed.

Three years ago about 30 villages in the area were flooded, leaving some people homeless and many stranded as water covered the bridges people use to make their way in and out of their villages.

Senior provincial government officials were dispatched to the ­area and promises of new bridges were made to villagers of Choseng and Moretele.

When City Press visited Choseng last week it was business as usual as the locals went about their daily chores almost unaware of the small group of construction workers working on the new bridge.

Local pupils were studying in classrooms while older folks crammed into run-down bakkies on their way home from town.

Nearly two years later, a bridge which was supposed to be completed in seven months is still under construction.

The contractor, Roucomm Systems, has also failed to complete a bridge in nearby Moretele.

Roucomm is one of the three construction companies that received multimillion-rand contracts from the provincial roads department without going through the tender process. This is after officials claimed that Roucomm had a “proven track record and executed their work diligently”.

However, Pateletso Phemelo, project steering committee member for Choseng village, said construction of the bridge was a waste of time since it did not look any ­different to the one which sank three years ago.

“This whole project has become a joke and an insult to us because we will still have the same problems when the rain comes.”

William Ndyareeba, a teacher at Choseng Middle School, said they only heard rumours about the project and that two years after the construction began, no one really understands what the contractors are doing.

“We’ve seen contractors come on site for a short period and then disappear. We are not even sure whether the ones working there today are the same contractors who started with this project,” he said.

Another teacher from nearby Gaseonale Primary School, who lives outside Choseng, said she does not bother coming to work when there is a downpour. She is one of 15 of the 18 teachers at the primary school who live outside the village and depend on the bridge to get to work.

Kabelo Mabe of Moretele shared the same sentiments about the construction of a bridge in his area.

Mabe said his community was very angry and had demanded ­answers from the local councillor, who did not seem to have any information regarding the project.

“All that we want is better communication from these contractors. They cannot benefit millions at our expense and leave us to ­suffer like this in these dangerous conditions. Last year we lost our cows and goats; next time we will lose our families,” he said.

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