Gauteng in skills drive to boost infrastructure

Johannesburg – The Gauteng provincial government is employing more than 200 new people with the necessary technical skills to deal with the province’s infrastructure backlogs, it emerged on Sunday.

Infrastructure Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu said the new recruits include engineers, technicians and artisans, who were hired following intense advertising in newspapers and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Some of these people will be deployed to our hospitals in the province and their occupation will be to make sure that these hospitals do not experience any technical problems.

“Some of them will be on the road, some will be at the construction of the new schools – whether in regional, district or provincial projects and with that capacity, all our projects – without any shadow of doubt – will be delivered,” Mahlangu told reporters in Johannesburg.

Earlier this year, Gauteng set aside R30.6 billion of its total budget of R69.311 billion for infrastructure development, including the building of new health facilities.

Accessible and reliable infrastructure is critical if Gauteng wants to continue attracting investment both locally and internationally.

But the provincial government has come under heavy criticism in recent months over the spate of unmaintained infrastructure, especially at public health institutions. Problems included defective lifts, malfunctioning boilers as well as back-up generators failing to kick-in at some hospitals.

The department also lacked skills in contract and risk management, leading to some projects not being completed or not delivered at all.

Mahlangu said adverts were placed in newspapers and social networking sites as part of a strategy to attract competent skills. More than 1 000 people responded.

She acknowledged that the department had in the past struggled with the delivery of quality infrastructure projects on time and within budget. She attributed this to the disproportionate staff complement of 80% of the department’s employees being administrative, while 20% were technical.

“Since my deployment, we have worked resolutely to change this ratio to an 80/20 split in favour of technical expertise,” said Mahlangu.

She said with additional capacity, particularly in the technical field, the department would be able to deliver on projects and ensure that each site had dedicated project personnel, including a project manager.

Among the immediate projects the department needs to deliver on is the construction of nine new schools across Gauteng, all of them expected to be completed around March next year.

There will also be the refurbishment of clinics and housing for doctors and nurses at a cost of approximately R450 million.

Mahlangu warned unscrupulous contractors that the department would not tolerate shoddy work and underperformance.

“We have to deliver quality projects on time and within the stipulated budget. I have the brains in my office who understand the industry well. If this does not happen and service providers are found to be at fault or anyone for that matter, someone will take responsibility for it.” –

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