The construction of the Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market in Mbombela has been further delayed by another two years. This due to non-financial payments to sub-contractors.
The project was hailed as an initiative to drive economic growth of small scale farmers and link them with international and local buyers. The fresh produce market was first mooted 12 years ago by the then Mpumalanga Premier, David Mabuza.
The provincial government also signed a bilateral agreement with a country in the Middle East. This was to enable it to export its agricultural produce to Oman.
Bosman Grobbler, from the Democratic Alliance, says their main concern is that more funds are being spent on this project beyond the anticipated costs.
Grobbler says the Fresh Produce Market was a brilliant idea – but the challenge is accountability by government.
“The amount of money spent by the provincial government on this project is really too much…Our main concern at the moment is there’s no work happening. The main contractor ended up charging the government standing fee every month, which means the project continues to cost us taxpayers money. But there is no construction happening and there’s no deadline at the moment or aim when the project would finish.”
Meanwhile, the Public Works Department in Mpumalanga has refuted the claims by the DA that the project has stopped and no construction work is taking place.
Public Works Spokesperson is Bongani Dlamini says, “Let me indicates that the project is progressing. There’s are challenges as far we know there’s no contractors that is owed at the moment. All contractors that are supposed to be on side they are currently working as I’m talking now. Issues of last time there were challenges between the contractor and sub-contractors those issues were ironed out seemingly. There are no longer any challenges. So the project is progressing very well and we are expecting that it would be completed very soon.”
Last year, SABC News reported on a major infrastructure development backlog in the province, including the construction of the international market.
More details in the report below: