Road(work) to nowhere

2018-10-10 06:02
A neglected road sign on the R706 to two Free State towns, Jagersfontein and Fauresmith, south-west of Bloemfontein. These road signs are invisible at night. Photo: Teboho Setena

A neglected road sign on the R706 to two Free State towns, Jagersfontein and Fauresmith, south-west of Bloemfontein. These road signs are invisible at night. Photo: Teboho Setena

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The Department of Police, Roads and Transport launched Transport Month, focusing on road infrastructure, under controversy due to unfinished projects worth millions.

It has emerged that some projects have exceeded the budget after contractors had failed to meet time frames to complete projects which were started in 2016.

The MEC for the Department of Police, Roads and Transport, Sam Mashinini, launched Transport Month by officially opening the Trompsburg Taxi Rank in the Xhariep Region on Monday (08/10).

Hillary Mophethe, spokesperson, said the department would launch the Thaba Nchu public transport routes on 19 October.

She also said the department would launch two projects, the Hoopstad to Bultfontein Road (R700) on Thursday (11/10) and the Vredefort Road (R59) on 30 October.

The two projects are some of several lucrative contracts which were delayed beyond the timelines due to disruptions and complex challenges.

Leona Kleynhans, DA member of the provincial legislature, blamed the delay of these multi-million rands’ projects to political interfe­rence and unrealistic contractual requirements.

She said foul play had come to light when the Free State Legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Infrastructure conducted oversight visits to road projects in the province.

“Main contractors are also obligated to assign 30% of the contract work to sub­contractors identified by the department through the Contractor Development Programme (CDP).

“This programme is open to political manipulation. All the identified subcontractors fall within the Mangaung Area, which creates conflict with other subcontractors across the province.

“The Free State economy is in desperate need of an upgraded roads infrastructure,” said Kleynhans.

Kleynhans said following a briefing by the department, the Deneysville to Jim Fouché Road’s 44 km rehabilitation – at 70% before completion – is expected to finish in 2019, having started mid-2016.

“The controversial R261 million P44/1 and 2 road rehabilitation’s extended delays motivated the community of Deneysville and Oranjeville to submit a petition to the legislature due to the lack of progress.

“Occupational health and safety regulations at this project have been flouted, which have resulted in the death of six workers since the inception of the project,” she said.

“The R256 million road rehabilitation project for the 50 km stretch of road between Vredefort and Viljoens­kroon awarded to a contractor in September 2017, has seen several major disruptions due to labour disputes and challenges with borrow pits. Progress here is at a mere 35%,” she said.

The R168 million P33/2 Bothaville to Viljoenskroon project, awarded to a contractor in October 2017, only got underway in January 2018.

Since the very beginning, this project has seen community protests and disputes about the project in Bothaville, to the extent that the project, which would have started in Bothaville, had to be launched at the Viljoens­kroon end.

The contractor was awarded another R184 million contract for the rehabilitation of the 48,6 km stretch of road from Wesselsbron to Hoopstad in September 2017.

Construction could only start in January 2018 due to community unrest related to the employment of labour and sub-contractors.

“After 13 months of the estimated 22-month long project, progress is only at 21%,” said Kleynhans.

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