Vow to deal with ‘construction mafia’ as public works minister says infrastructure is job creation catalyst

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Times Live

Public works minister Sihle Zikalala has no time for dodgy service providers and those who attempt to disrupt construction projects.

This as he tries to deliver on the cabinet's May 2020 approval of the infrastructure investment plan.

Zikalala said the plan articulated the country's need for infrastructure-led economic growth and recovery and identified projects in all provinces, concentrating on the network industries with the ability to attract private sector financing and funding.

“In tandem, cabinet also approved the establishment of Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) as an infrastructure centre of excellence and a single point of entry for infrastructure planning, management and delivery.”

The minister was speaking at a media briefing to outline and update the country on the national infrastructure plan. 

“Complementing the plan were legal, technical and financial mechanisms required to fast-track its implementation,” said Zikalala.

The minister said the plan focuses on ensuring there is sustainable, efficient, reliable and affordable infrastructure that enables economic growth and accelerates the creation of jobs across a swathe of economic sectors like water infrastructure, network infrastructure, agricultural infrastructure, social infrastructure and human settlements infrastructure.

He said the department is also focused on building new and upgrading existing infrastructure, repurposing and expediting the maintenance of neglected infrastructure.

Zikalala said the department would be repositioning itself as the implementing agent of choice.

“The department of public works and infrastructure is responsible for all government properties. The department is involved in the extensive maintenance of many projects.”

He said the department was a target of unscrupulous service providers who at times fleece the department through shoddy workmanship, project stoppages claiming liquidation of companies, poor contractor performance and many other issues that impact negatively on the performance of the department, which also effects delivery of services to the client departments and the community in general.

They were putting interventions in place to remove the perception that the department was a treasure nest of all sorts of things, including corruption, he said.

“We are setting new standards to inform service level agreements (SLAs) with leased buildings, especially focused on maintenance and smart facilities.

“Going forward, we will account on all our planned infrastructure projects, introduce early warning systems and respond timeously to project blockages.”

Zikalala also lambasted the “rising phenomena of so-called construction mafia who invade, intimidate and disrupt delivery of projects on the ground.”

“We reiterate that everyone is allowed to partake in economic activity in the country, but this must be done in a legal and orderly fashion. We will continue to engage communities on how they can benefit from construction projects and the entire value chain.

“Equally, we will mobilise communities to work with law enforcement to fight corruption, crime and the construction mafia who are sabotaging the delivery of infrastructure and hampering job creation.”

The department would meet with the “economic sabotage unit” set up within the police to deal with economic crimes and hijacking of project sites.


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