Still zero accountability for disastrous road contract in Emalahleni

The Department of Transport continues to ignore the disastrous state of a road in Chris Hani Local Municipality, emanating from questionable contracts awarded in 2014.

The road to Nkolonga Village in Emalahleni Municipality (DR08569), was earmarked for re-gravelling to a ‘safe and acceptable standard’ in 2014 and the Department of Roads and Public Works appointed Big Eye Investments to do the work. The company was paid R7-million to re-gravel four roads in the area.

On investigating the matter, the Democratic Alliance found that Big Eye Investments were previously in the news for failure to maintain a road in Gauteng, and should have been blacklisted at that stage.

In fact Big Eye Investments services were terminated on 28 November 2014 from the Chris Hani Contracts after it was alleged that they had misrepresented themselves in tender documents and had under-performed in all aspects of the contract including:

  •  poor progress;
  • poor safety;
  • poor overall attitude and showed a complete lack of understanding of basic construction norms;
  • Their equipment was found not to be roadworthy, in poor condition and in constant need of repairs;
  • the excavating equipment was perceived to be completely unusable.

Despite this termination, Big Eye Investments allegedly continued working on site, without knowledge and without permission from the District Roads Engineer. This work has been done without supervision, without Health and Safety Standards in place, and no lab test results in terms of spec of the thickness, density and quality of materials.

A follow up oversight inspection of the road by the Democratic Alliance has indicated that all items of work were incomplete, pipe crossings were installed without head walls, drains were too deep and non-functional, various rock outcrops were found along the road resulting in deep and dangerous corrosion.

On the last 4km of road, material was oversized and no storm water provision was made, rendering the road dangerous and almost impossible to drive on.

A second contractor, Aqua Transport, also worked on the road in May 2014 – without the knowledge of the District Roads Engineer and without such prior approval.

Numerous letters to the MEC of Roads and Transport, MEC Weziwe Tikana (See here and here) to urgently investigate the serious maladministration in terms of roads contracts, with specific reference to the Chris Hani contracts, the authorisation of work done, payments made and supervision of the contract have simply been ignored.

In response to a subsequent parliamentary question, the MEC’s responses are vague, evasive and a clear indication that the MEC is either being completely misled by officials or is deliberately evading accountability

Download IQP 17 q27 here

Asked when the road will be upgraded to a safe and reliable standard, the MEC says the ‘road is in a safe and acceptable standard’.

The pictures above are what the MEC regards as safe and acceptable. The state of this road has led to serious accidents, damage to property and could potentially lead to loss of life.

The information obtained by the Democratic Alliance points to complete maladministration and the Department being implicated in the resultant endangerment of lives on these roads.

I will continue to investigate this matter and hold the MEC and the Department accountable.