R7bn North West roads chaos

2009-09-12 14:01

A TWO-MONTH City Press investigation has shown that the province with the worst roads in South Africa has blown R700 million on irregular tenders to three companies, for which it has received little bang for its bucks.

This week North West province suspended its chief director for roads management, Eddie Thebe, and it is probing the tenders.

Now the provincial department of public works, roads and transport has run out of money. It needs R7 billion to fix what a study by the AA last year found to be the province with the greatest backlogs.

The province’s roads are in a dire state, with 28% of the 6 938km of tarred roads requiring complete ­resurfacing and 80% of the more than 14 000km of gravel roads in very bad condition because of a lack of maintenance.

Thebe was suspended for awarding contracts to three companies without following tender rules.

Documents also show that in October last year he proposed the inclusion of the three companies – Roucomm Systems, Kaulani Civils and Moseme Road Construction – in an emergency road patchwork programme.

It was approved by head of department Nic van Staden and procurement chief Kweku Odami-Tyaki. The companies were supposed to repair potholes, cut grass and do general maintenance of roads without going to tender. A month later they were given jobs worth more than R423 million, to build new roads and bridges, without a skills or tender evaluation.

Thebe said the companies had previously “worked with the department and had executed their work diligently” and had a proven track record.

City Press found, however, that:

• Roucomm had failed to complete two bridges in the villages around Taung since 2007;

• Kaulani had never done any work for the department except as part of a joint venture, and it had been deregistered by the industry regulator, the Construction Industry Development Board; and

• Prior to October, Moseme had never worked for the department.

Kaulani, Moseme and Roucomm have denied any wrongdoing.

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