A Coega Development Corporation and Department of Roads and Public Works (DRPW) project has failed to deliver on its R1.5 billion plan to empower contractors and develop infrastructure in the Eastern Cape.

The Roads Enterprise Development Programme (REDP) which began in 2010 had a budget of R1.5 billion and would run over three years. The project aimed to develop roads construction and create opportunities for 500 emerging and previously disadvantaged enterprises in all district municipalities in the Eastern Cape.

I have been reliably informed that in the Joe Gqabi District Municipality (JGDM), 18 contractors were supposed to benefit from the project, but with the project closing in 2013, only six have received any form of remuneration. In the OR Tambo District only 10 contractors in the municipality had benefited from this programme.

I have submitted parliamentary questions to the MEC for Public Works, Thandiswa Marawu, to give a full account of the outcome of the original empowerment objectives of this project. If this project is not delivering on its original objectives, it should not continue in the 2012/13 financial year because it is not empowering micro-contractors in the Eastern Cape.

By the end of the project, 500 contractors were supposed to be registered with the Construction Industries Development Board (CIDB) in grades ranging from 1 to 7. In JGDM, many still remain on the Grade 1-level. In OR Tambo it was reported that theoretical training was given without any practical work. The trainees were also not given certificates verifying their qualifications.

Infrastructure development is a key concern in the Eastern Cape and issues like this need immediate attention. The lack of activity in this project equates to a lack of service delivery in certain areas.

According to contractors the blame is continually being shifted between Coega and DPRW, when questions are asked. These two entities fail to respond and account to their beneficiaries and meetings are held with no follow-up.

The people of the Eastern Cape cannot be promised employment and delivery and subsequently not receive anything. Road linkages determine the economic activity in a province, and the Eastern Cape needs economic development without hindrances.