Construction cartel companies challenged to fix school sanitation

2014-01-30 12:49

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Rights organisation Section27 has called on construction companies implicated in the bid-rigging scandal to help fix the Limpopo sanitation crisis in schools.

At a press briefing today, Section27 revealed that its executive director, Mark Heywood, had written to implicated construction companies to assist.

The letter states: “Section27 believes that the private construction industry has both resources and expertise to assist in addressing these problems.

“Your industry has been tarnished by the bid-rigging scandal. However, offering your assistance to a plan to build decent toilets would demonstrate your commitment to realising quality basic education for South Africa’s children.”

The companies Heywood has written to include construction giants such as Murray & Roberts, Group Five, Grinaker-LTA and WBHO.

This scandal made headlines last year when it emerged that some of these companies had colluded to fix tenders for the construction of World Cup stadiums.

The profit margin in the R15.4 billion construction deals would have amounted to about R2.7 billion.

Heywood’s plea comes after a preschooler drowned in a pit toilet in Chebeng, Limpopo, earlier this month.

Heywood said his call “was not a gimmick”.

“Those companies have substantial resources and expertise ... the issue of constructing several thousand toilets should not tax them too much.”

Heywood said it was “not just an issue of social corporate responsibility but it is an issue of a corporate duty in terms of the Constitution and the duty it places on corporates”.

According to Section27, there is a crisis of sanitation at schools in Limpopo, with the majority of pupils being forced to use inadequate toilet facilities, including pit toilets.

Solanga Milambo, an activist who works with Section27, said it was “scary” to see the toilets some learners were forced to use.

“I can no longer call it a toilet because it is no longer safe to be used.”

Nikki Stein, Section27’s lawyer, said the basic education department had undertaken to provide the organisation with the results of a sanitation audit in Limpopo.

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