How to spend 12 years building a police station

Minister Sihle Zikalala has promised the Vuwani police station will be completed in 2025. Work on it started in 2012.

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The only police station in Vuwani, Limpopo is yet to be completed nearly 12 years after it was first built. Photos: Bernard Chiguvare

  • The only police station in Vuwani remains incomplete nearly 12 years after it was first built.
  • The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala, says it has been marred by several delays due to incompetent contractors.
  • Over the years, the department paid tens of millions of rands to contractors, but only a fraction of that been recovered to date.
  • Last week Zikalala announced that a new contractor was appointed. The station is expected to be completed by September 2025.

Construction of the only police station in Vuwani, Limpopo, started in 2012 and is yet to be finished.

Until 2021 police officers were forced to work from mobile units as a result of several delays with two different contractors to complete the administration block.

Vuwani has 125 police officers, who service about 96 villages. They have been working under difficult conditions including inadequate office space and having no holding cells.

Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure Sihle Zikalala said construction has been delayed several times over the years because of incompetent contractors.

The department has paid millions of rands to contractors, but only a fraction of this been recovered.

In 2012 the department awarded the first contract for over R27-million but work stalled when the contractor ran out of cash. The contract was terminated in 2013. At that stage only 20% of the work had been done. The department had only paid R7.5-million at the time.

The incomplete administration block. Police are only able to use a few offices inside this building.

The second contractor worked on the project from 2015 to 2021. The department said it again had to terminate the contract because the contractor had “cash flow problems”. About R36-million had been paid to this contractor.

Last week, Zikalala announced that a third contractor had been appointed and work was expected to be completed by 25 September 2025, at an estimated cost of R26.9-million.

Addressing Vuwani residents during a site visit at the station last week, Zikalala acknowledged that they had in the past made mistakes by appointing the cheapest contractors who turned out to not have adequate capacity to do the job.

The department’s acting deputy director, Nkosana Kubeka, said the current contractor has been tasked with completing the community service centre which included the police barracks, administration block, 11 holding cells, paving the station, the laboratory, installing a water tank and a fence.

In addition to this, the laboratory needs a ceiling, the cupboards must be repaired as well as plumbing. While the holding cells still need plumbing, ventilation, electricity and flooring.

Currently suspects are transported to the holding cells at Thohoyandou police station which is about 30km away. “We are happy that the project is taking shape. This will help in executing our duties,” said Vhembe District Commissioner Eddie van der Walt.

Kubeka told GroundUp that progress on the project will now be closely monitored by officials. “One of the senior managers from the national office has been assigned to check on this project. We will hold monthly meetings and give progress reports to the minister every two months,” promised Kubeka.

Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala (centre in reflective vest) walks through the unfinished Vuwani police station with senior provincial government and SAPS officials.

TOPICS:  Policing

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Dear Editor

This project is one of the thousands that this country is facing where incompetent contractors are perceived to know the nature of the construction work and then given the contract only to play poverty and abandon the contract after receiving an inflated payment. There is absolutely no monitoring of the project in stages for real payments to be made. If one drives around the country, one would see a lot of these abandoned projects. A waste of taxpayers' money. It seems to me that there are kickbacks to the project manager after each contractor abandons the project. Another form of state capture? Sad indeed.

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