Less than 2km of Upington street paved after a year

| Selby Nomnganga
The street is about 500m long and 40% of it is incomplete. Photograph by Selby Nomnganga.

An expanded public works project in Upington to pave three streets of 1.8km is incomplete a year later and no account can be given of the project by the Department of Public Works, the local municipality, or the responsible councillor.

About 48 temporary workers were employed when the project, started in November 2012, was abruptly ended on the 26 July 2013 with promises that it would resume within two weeks.

A project of this scale takes “about five to six months” estimates civil engineer Mr Dirk Brand of Bvi Engineers in Upington.

Sandra Zakeyi (not her real name), a single mother who worked on the project is struggling without the income it provided, “although it was little for working in the hot sun,” she says. In Upington, the summer months average 38 degrees Celsius.

Unconfirmed estimates put the project allocation at R1.2 million. The project now straddles two financial years, so the same group of people will be counted twice as being beneficiaries of ‘work opportunities’.

Kata Street, less than three-quarters paved, and the paving bricks are beginning to come off. Photograph by Selby Nomnganga.

“The same people will be employed when the project restarts,” says councillor Elliot Lebitsa of ward 13 in Paballelo township. “Each person was paid R70 per day.” But Lebitsa could not remember what was allocated for the project. People “learned from those with experience, but there was no training”.

A resident nearby who did not want to be identified said, “People were encouraged to take the bricks to use for themselves using wheel barrows.”

The paving materials kept in a fenced yard without any security at Vundisa Street. Photograph by Selby Nomnganga.

The director of the Public Works Department referred all questions to Pietie Coetze, co-ordinator of the public works programme. He pleaded ignorance about the project amount. He referred all enquiries to the local municipality. In turn, Johan Kock, who managed the project, referred all questions to the communications director for the municipality, Patrick Williams. He asked that all questions be mailed to him and he has not responded to them five days later.

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