Health: 53 upgrades fail

2011-08-19 00:00

FIFTY-THREE projects to upgrade health facilities in KwaZulu-Natal were not completed in the last three years, mostly because of poor performance by the contractors.

Cash flow constraints were the other major reason why the contractors who won these multi-million-rand projects could not complete their work.

These details emerged in a parliamentary reply by MEC for Health, Sibongiseni Dhlomo to a question posed by Democratic Alliance MPL Johann Krog

Of the 53 projects 36 were not completed because of poor performance. More than 21 experienced cash flow problems, including a contractor awarded a R113 million project and another awarded projects for over R20 million.

In a R21-million project for the construction of a forensic mortuary in Pongola an assessment report cited a number of reasons, including cash flow problems, poor site management, failing to complete work to specifications and a lack of experience.

In another failed project the contractor just abandoned the site.

A contractor who was awarded a tender to build two clinics for a total R19 million, failed to fulfil both contracts. The report said the contractor had been awarded multiple contracts, which stretched its resources.

Krog said that the many problems listed for the non-completion of the projects — from non-performance to cash flow problems and poor site management — point to a dire lack of screening by the Public Works Department (PWD) when appointing contractors. “The multiple excuses given for delays also give rise to serious questions about the possibility of tender fraud,” he said.

In his reply Dhlomo said there should be no cost to government for the delays in the construction of the facilities. The MEC said the contracts allow for penalties and projects taken to completion should therefore have no cost over-run. Dhlomo said that where projects have been terminated the PWD is to recover all costs.

Krog’s comments on the matter were sent to the PWD for a response last Friday, but no response had been received by yesterday.

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