Ventersdorp residents deliver ultimatum to North West premier over 10-year stalled project

North West Premier Job Mokgoro. (Gallo Images, file)
North West Premier Job Mokgoro. (Gallo Images, file)

North West Premier Job Mokgoro has been given until Friday to respond to the community of Ventersdorp on the failed N14 project or face possible uprisings in the coming weeks.

"Following the past engagements on this issue there should no doubt that there should, for the benefit of the Ventersdorp community, by now have been visible evidence of the practical and logistical realisation of this project.  

"In fact the unfortunate perception, that now exists, is that the general elections instead of a real commitment toward a struggling community has been the cause for the public commitments and that the people of Ventersdorp have simply been forgotten," community leader Khuduga Dibe said in a letter addressed to the premier.

The project, which seeks to deliver new infrastructure to the town, has allegedly been on hold for 10 years. It was due to resume on January 28, 2019 according to officials.

The town of Ventersdorp falls under the troubled JB Marks Municipality which faces a possible section 139(b) intervention following claims of alleged maladministration, corruption and fraud at the local municipality, News24 earlier reported.

Urgent intervention

Community leaders escalated the matter to the premier for urgent intervention.

"The premier said that the section 1(39) process will not affect the implementation of the N14 project," Dibe said.

Concerned residents says that it has exercised enough patience in a project which appears to be seeing "no sign of development".

"We therefore request a thorough update within seven days and failure to do so we will be left with no choice but to call a public meeting as community leaders to inform the community at large that as we see nothing on site we might have reached a dead end. And the community will then decide on what to do," the letter to the premier [dated July 4] concludes.

ALSO READ: A list of shame claims: Allegations of fraud, corruption and maladministration at JB Marks Municipality

The office of the premier told News24 on Wednesday that Mokgoro's intervention was based on unrest in Ventersdorp last year.

"The premier intervened last year in this matter primarily because of the fact that the community was protesting; leading to the destruction of public and private property in the area as well as causing disruption to traffic on the N14 road and damage to road users on the N14," said spokesperson Vuyisile Ngesi.

Ngesi said the project was ready to commence, but was dependent on funding being made available.

"The developer is awaiting the confirmation of bulk services from the provincial department of cooperative governance, human settlement and traditional affairs to avail funding; and we believe that the funding will be made available as soon as it is possible. 

"We are awake to the fact that the developer has indicated the willingness to commence with the project, however he cannot commence with the necessary bulk services funding," said Ngesi.

Date

Developmental local government and housing department spokesperson, Dineo Thapelo could not provide a date for the start of the N14 project or when funding will be made available.

"The department has through the 2019/20 Human Settlements Development Grant (HSDG) business plan budgeted for bulk infrastructure and internal reticulation.

"At the moment the department is busy with procurement processes to get a suitable service provider that will be able to deliver the planned targets," Thapelo concluded. 

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