EXORBITANT CONSULTANT COMMISSIONS EATING UP PROVINCIAL ROADS BUDGET

The awarding of exorbitant commissions when appointing contractors is eroding away vast amounts of our provincial roads budget.

Sixty percent of the Provincial Roads budget of R1,668 billion has for this financial year been outsourced to the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) to establish road forums in certain municipalities.

The milking of the system starts when Coega (who were appointed by the provincial government because of a concern by them of the use of too many consultants being employed) appoint consultants who in turn appoint contractors who in turn appoint sub-contractors for projects.

In each case it is alleged that each consultant/contractor is taking commissions of up to 15% of the cost.

These commissions have a knock on effect on increased costs of projects and less funding to employ people to do these projects and pay decent remuneration to such employees.

If one considers that the overall roads budget had a meagre R4 million overall increase from the 2010/11 financial year, this represents a zero percent increase in real terms over the previous budget.

What is needed is for funding to go directly to the sources it was intended for and to minimise the costs to the middleman (consultants) where possible.

Opportunities abound for small, competent contractors to be appointed to do work and ensure that as much as possible of the budgeted funding goes towards service delivery and not the back pockets of consultants.

I have today written to the MEC for Roads and Public Works, Thadiswa Marawu, asking her why the decision was made to use the CDC and whether due diligence was applied regarding the best use of roads money.

While acknowledging the right of all to earn a living and charge for services, caution must be exercised when using state money so that it is used to best possible benefit to fast track efficient service delivery.

Furthermore, it is alleged that the department has not yet paid over the monies due to CDC to pay contractors.

As such two contractors appointed by CDC have since resigned because of non- payment.

The provincial administration and the department is playing games with the upkeep of our roads and is compromising on the safety of motorists who continue to experience harm as maintenance backlogs plague the roads system.

This fiasco must stop now.