Spatial change drives social change

Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Jabulani, Soweto

Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Jabulani, Soweto

It would be short-sighted to think that a budget vote for infrastructure development in Gauteng in the year 2015 stands in isolation of what went before.

This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Freedom Charter and we are reminded of the call by the Congress of the People that “the people shall govern” — and we are indeed governing. We also commemorate the 39th anniversary of the June 16 1976 uprising, and we salute the young lions who contributed to the democracy and freedom we enjoy today, including the fact that indeed “the doors of culture and learning have been opened for all”.

As an activist government, we have as a collective during the past  12 months visited and engaged with our citizens from all corners and sectors of Gauteng. They spoke about their admiration for those who fought and died for freedom and the need to preserve their memory and serve our people with honour. We listened and we have turned around     service delivery and infrastructure development with our people in honour of many unsung heroes and heroines of our struggle for freedom and democracy.

This budget represents the wishes of the Gauteng people and it is our contribution to the execution of transformation, modernisation and re-industrialisation programme of the Gauteng City Region (GCR), which is very much in line with the National Development Plan by Minister Jeff Radebe of the Presidency when he attended the Gauteng  Executive Council Lekgotla last month, led by Premier David Makhura.

In his budget speech, the premier expressed his improved confidence in the department of infrastructure development’s ability to deliver. He said: “The GDID has increased its technical capacity and this has led to a major turnaround in spending and delivery of infrastructure projects such that 99% of our infrastructure budgets were spent by the end of March 2015.” 

We also take serious what the premier said about the historic poor performance of the department and hence we have turned around this history of poor performance. It’s not easy but we are hard at work to bring about a new performance culture in the department. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Those who have eyes can see. We pity those who want to dwell in the past with a pessimistic approach.

We remain committed to changing the spatial patterns we inherited from apartheid to integrate human settlements. 

In partnership with the Gauteng Planning Commission, we have completed the first phase of the Gauteng Integrated Infrastructure Master plan that will guide infrastructure development in the Gauteng City Region (GCR).

We are ready with the plans for the planning house in preparation for the Gauteng Infrastructure Investment Summit, with the intention of entering into a public-private partnership (PPP) to build the planning house. The house will help us better manage the use of land for spatial planning and public infrastructure development to visualise where development  in the short, medium and long term will occur.”

We are also ready with plans to resuscitate the Kopanong Government Precinct project. This will help us to revitalise the Johannesburg inner city and better accommodate other Gauteng provincial department. This project has historically been postponed due to insufficient resources and will be presented at the infrastructure investment conference for a PPP arrangement.

Infrastructure development is a catalyst to sustainable socioeconomic development and it has a potential to improve the quality  of life of our people in a most fundamental way.  

Infrastructure development therefore has remained one of the key priorities of the ANC government.

To contribute towards the goal of accelerated social transformation, in 2014/15 we overachieved  completion of most of our planned education infrastructure projects on time, within budget and with good quality. 

This includes nine new schools (including the Magaliesburg boarding school), 23 restoration and repair projects on old schools, the construction of nine Grade R classrooms, and 22 fencing projects to ensure safety of learners and educators. 

We have reviewed the education prototypes to meet required norms and standards. Together with the Gauteng department of education, we are perfecting the schools prototypes based on the smart classrooms concept gazetted around education infrastructure norms and standards.

In January, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Gauteng Premier David Makhura, Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi, we unveiled the first classrooms of the future in Tembisa as a step towards paperless education. MEC Lesufi had committed his department to accelerate  this programme in the current financial year.

We also achieved most health infrastructure projects within budget, on time and with good quality. This includes completion of two tuberculosis wards, a blood bank project, and four additional oxygen and vacuum pumps in neo-natal and maternity wards. We have also completed the health project prototype to meet required health norms and standards.

We did not do well with the Gauteng department of agriculture and rural development’s projects, because only six of the 13 planned projects were completed. This is an area that needs improvement in this financial year. Our people have complained in the past that our projects take too long, costs escalate and that some contractors and subcontractors are not paid on time. We have listened and have committed to improve this situation because we do not want to contribute to the collapse of SMME contractors in particular. 

We have intervened in projects such as the Boipatong Memorial and the Magaliesburg boarding school, where main contractors had not paid subcontractors. We will ensure that legal contracts between main contractors and subcontractors are strengthened to stop this exploitation. We will continue to improve integrated planning through alignment with an integrate data management system (IDMS) model and interaction with client departments.

To accelerate social infrastructure development, the IDMS shall now award projects within 45 days after advertising. It will take us only 21 days to finalise contractual matters before the site is handed over to the contractor. We will ensure that we appoint competent service providers and that those who perform poorly will be blacklisted if they do not improve even after training. 

This way we will be able to actualise the words of Chief Albert Luthuli: “To give flesh and blood meaning in the South African setting, to such words as democracy, freedom, liberty. If the Charter is examined it will be seen that freedom means the opening up of the opportunity to all South Africans to live full and abundant lives in terms of country, community and individual.”

Mayathula-Khoza is the Gauteng MEC for infrastructure development

What Gauteng is building

In this financial year, the department of infrastructure development is already on site, busy with 287 construction projects.

In the Central Development Corridor of Johannesburg, on education infrastructure, we are building seven new schools on behalf of the Gauteng department of education. These are a primary and secondary school in Braamfischerville, Everest Primary School, Julius Sebolai School, Mayibuye Primary School, Moses Kotane Primary  School and Nokuthula Special School.  

We are refurbishing 67 schools, building 77 new Grade R classrooms and fencing eight more schools for the safety of our learners.

In terms of health infrastructure, we are on site providing maintenance to 40 health facilities in the central development corridor of Johannesburg. 

These include implementing alternative energy technologies, such as the combined use of gas, diesel and electricity power at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. We are installing new lifts at the Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital, and are doing refurbishments and maintenance work at the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital, the Lilian Ngoyi Hospital, the Finetown Clinic, the Sinethemba Clinic, as well as the Stretford and Orange Farm clinics in the south of this corridor.

In the Northern Development  Corridor of Tshwane, we are building five new schools. They are Garankuwa Primary School in Soshanguve East, Rethabiseng Primary School, Nellmapius Secondary School, and an additional secondary school in Olievenhoutbosch. 

We are also refurbishing 57 old schools, fencing six schools, building 43 Grade R classrooms, installing septic tanks at six schools and renovating 13 community development centres on behalf of the social development department.

In this corridor, we are also renovating over 20 healthcare facilities that are part of the National Health Insurance programme. This is over and above the refurbishments of health care facilities currently under way at George Mukhari Academic Hospital, Pretoria Hospital and the Tshwane District Hospital. These are some of the 19 health care facilities we are working at. 

In the Eastern Development Corridor of Ekurhuleni, on education infrastructure, we are building four new schools namely the Chief Albert Luthuli Primary, Menzi (Langaville) Primary, Roodekop Primary and Thinasonke Primary. 

We are also refurbishing 38 old schools in this corridor.

On health infrastructure, we are refurbishing the Daveyton Main District Hospital and 30 community  healthcare centres. The community of Daveyton has requested a hospital instead of the initially proposed pathology facility, due to high demand by the growing population. The Gauteng department of health listened and will accommodate this request. 

In the Western Development Corridor of the West Rand, we are building 20 Grade R classrooms, refurbishing four schools, fencing three schools and doing maintenance and further refurbishments in 28 health facilities.

In the Southern Development Corridor of Sedibeng, on education infrastructure, we are constructing two new schools namely the Bophelong Secondary and Setlabotsha Primary schools. We are also building 23  Grade R classrooms, fencing six schools, refurbishing and maintaining 34 health facilities. – Nandi Mayathula-Khoza