Party concerned about lack of construction on Driekoppies bridge after multiple budget allocations

 Driekoppies bridge.


27-03-2024
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Mpumalanga News
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According to RISE Mzansi, budget allocations were made during the past two consecutive financial years, yet construction on the bridge has not been resumed.



RISE Mzansi has called out the Mpumalanga government for alleged incompetency and failure in delivering projects.



The political party says the provincial treasury has become an ‘ATM with no Pin code, where uncaring and corrupt politicians are able to make withdrawals as and when they please, with little to nothing going to the development of communities in the province.’



This after the MEC for finance, development and tourism, Nompumelelo Hlophe, delivered the provincial budget speech at the legislature on Tuesday March 12, and mentioned that an amount of R40m will be allocated for the Driekoppies bridge project in the 2024/25 financial year. “This bridge has been allocated budgets for the past two financial years and nothing has been done up to this point. There are no signs of construction on-site, and they keep allocating millions of rands. Where does that money go? About R20m was allocated in the 2023/24 financial year and the bridge has not been touched,” said Sipho Mawelela, RISE Mzansi’s campaign manager.



Mawelela says residents are unable to move over the bridge during rainy weather and that they are forced to take alternative routes. “This bridge connects Driekoppies and Schoemansdal. When it rains heavily, we are forced to take the long route via Richardshoek, which causes an inconvenience. The money has been allocated; it’s about time we see the construction of the bridge,” he added.



The spokesperson for the Treasury, Letshela Jonas, said: “The Provincial Treasury confirms that the project was allocated R20m for planning, design and a small amount to start the construction, R13m of which was reprioritised during the adjustments budget in November 2023. The project has started with planning and design; it is expected to move into procurement and construction in the 2024/25 financial year, hence the R40m allocation.”



The Department of Public Works, Roads, and Transport (DPWRT) says some of the processes take time and are not within the scope of the department. “The Driekoppies bridge is prone to overtopping whenever there are heavy rains, especially upstream of the bridge. This results in the communities of Driekoppies, Middelplaas and Boschfontein being cut off from the main shopping centre at Schoemansdal and other important public amenities, which include Shongwe Hospital, schools and workplaces.



A decision was taken by the provincial executive after the 2022 Nkomazi floods to expedite construction of an all-weather bridge to avoid recurrence. In this regard, the department was instructed to speedily implement the bridge project starting from the required planning issues, the design process, procurement and construction of the new bridge with effect from April 2023. A budget was provided for the design process and a tentative allocation for construction in the event the design was completed in six to nine months. However, the planning and design process requires compliance with regulatory matters, including an environmental impact assessment, which processes take time and are not within the control of department,” said Bongani Dhlamini, the spokesperson for the DPWRT.



According to Dhlamini, the project has already started and the design process is being concluded. “Once all regulatory requirements are complied with and the design is approved, the procurement for construction will be done, and it normally takes plus or minus three months to award the project. The project was allocated a budget for design and a small amount to kick-start construction if design was completed by October 2023 or before. At budget adjustment in October 2023, once it became clear that design was not going to be completed during the 2023/24 financial year, the construction budget was reallocated by Provincial Treasury to other pressing commitments in the province,” he added.

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