North West Public Works admits that R16-million was spent on failed road project

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The North West Department of Public Works and Roads has admitted that it spent R16-million on a road project that failed and must now spend an additional R100-million to get the job done properly. The multi-million rand project was to tar of an eight-kilometre gravel road leading to Lokaleng, Mogosane and Tlapeng villages near Mahikeng.

The project, that should have been completed by November last year, has been included in the 2021/2022 financial year budget at a cost of R104-million. The contract has been awarded to a new contractor after the initial company was liquidated.

“In the department and in government as general, if a contractor is not performing according to the schedule, the contractor imposes penalties, and if we are not happy with the progress, still, we can terminate. That is how far we can go. As to whether we have other consequences or other steps that we can take, I’m sorry, we impose penalties. That’s how far we go,” Departmental spokesperson Mathsube Mfoloe explains.

According to public administration and governance specialist, Professor Barry Hanyane from the North West University, there are other ways in which government can hold service providers accountable.

“Departments can refer the matter to the SIU for further investigation and a proper summarized kind of case notes can be made with the view to litigate. It’s obviously hauling them through the court of law and seeking, in some instances, urgent interdict not to allow assets – both movable and immovable – of those implicated to move out of the country. It’ll be important to target individuals and not necessarily companies.” says Professor Hanyane.

North West Legislature’s Standing Committee On Public Accounts (SCOPA) says it will play its oversight role to ensure that the department takes serious action.

“It is the responsibility of the department to ensure that funds follow function. It’s the responsibility of the contractor to finish the road construction, failing which the department must recoup all the monies that have been paid to that contractor. If they fail to take action, as SCOPA we will play an oversight to the department and ensure that there’s consequence management.” says Chairperson of SCOPA in the North West Job Dliso.