Residents of Buxton Village near Taung in the North West are in the dark about the slow progress on the upgrade of the Taung Skull World Heritage Site which was included in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site listing.
It is reported that the more than two million year old skull belonging to a child in Taung was discovered in 1924 in the lime mine vicinity. The local residents say the changing of contractors at the site is causing the delay in the upgrading of the heritage site.
The North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development few years ago undertook an initiative to develop the site after it was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 2015.
Some of the construction that are taking place to develop the area included roads, fencing and a power substation.
Research will be conducted around trails, signage and stone miner cottages amongst others.
Some of the unemployed youth say since some of the projects have been halted, unemployment in their area has increased.
“Since the project has stopped, we no longer have a source of income to pay the important things like school fees and insurance policies. We no longer have income here in Buxton, I just want the government to intervene, maybe we can be able to work and take care of our families.”
SABC spoke to some of the community members who are calling the provincial government to speed-up the long overdue project.
“The Taung Skull could have been something that we benefit from as the community of Buxton but now there is nothing going on here and the projects are coming in and out without completion. The government must inject money to complete the project. Our wish is to see that skull returned to its place so that the tourist could come and see that we have a heritage,” community members explained.
Local Kgosi Letsogile Lekwene in Buxton village says, there is lack of communication between the contractor and the community.
“The problem is communication, when the project stopped, the site management did not communicate, when there is a problem with the project especially the leadership in Buxton, they do not even explain to the workers and the CLO. They only communicate when the project comes in and when they look for labourers.”
North West Department of Rural Environmental and Agricultural Development say, the increasing number of constructions on site and the low budget allocation every year is causing the delay.
The estimated budget for the financial year 2016/07 is R33 million.
Chief Director for Environmental Affairs, Lebo Diale says another problem is that some of the contractors did not have the capacity to do certain developments.
“In terms of making sure the main challenges do not get repeated we have appointed the engineering firm which is working very closely with the contractors. Instances where you will find the contractor of the foreman not being able to interpret certain things like the drawings, the engineer will assist. There are some buildings that we are still earmarking, should there be funding available we will continue with them.”
The department is optimistic that most of the projects will be completed next year.
Meanwhile negotiations to return the skull to its original place between the provincial government and Wits University will resume soon.