Taxpayers foot the bill for over R74-million in legal costs against the Department of Roads and Public Works

The Department of Roads and Public Works (DRPW) in the Eastern Cape must take drastic action to address the rapidly deteriorating roads network to avoid a further influx of legal claims against the Department.

In a response to a question for written reply that was posed to the MEC for Roads and Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu, it was determined that the Department of Roads and Public Works in the Eastern Cape has spent over R74-million of taxpayer’s money on legal claims and costs over the past 3 financial years. Click here to view response.

There are various legal matters pending against the Department which include, damages to vehicles due to potholes, motor vehicle accidents, matters relating to supply chain and procurement processes as well as labour relations.

Over R21-million of the R74-million was spent on outsourcing and defending legal matters. Just under R53-million was spent on judgements against the Department.  Approximately R9-million of the Department’s annual budget was allocated to legal claims.

As of 31 May 2016, the total value of legal claims against the Department amounts to over R316-million. This amount refers to cases that are yet to be settled or tested before the court.

It is clear that taxpayers are carrying this enormous financial burden because of the negligence and maladministration of the Department of Roads and Public Works; the Department’s core mandate is to provide and maintain infrastructure.

The Democratic Alliance is dismayed by the fact that so much of taxpayer’s money is wasted as a result of maladministration by the Department of Roads and Public Works.

We are facing a double-edged sword. While the maintenance backlog grows exponentially, the value of claims against the Department will also grow exponentially.

The roads maintenance backlog in the Eastern Cape is currently estimated at around R23-billion.

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Department to implement steps immediately to deal with the maintenance backlog in order to significantly reduce legal claims against the Department.

The Eastern Cape is desperately in need of a caring government that is focused on good, clean and responsible governance.