Defend Truth


Gauteng’s infrastructure department is a mess and is failing our people — it’s time to get rid of it


Nico de Jager is a member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. He is DA Gauteng spokesperson on infrastructure development.

The admission that the department set up to manage Gauteng’s state property and drive infrastructure development has failed is a start for fixing the mess.

Infrastructure development is one of the main arteries that can give life to any economy in the world. In Gauteng, a special department that focuses on building and maintaining social infrastructure was launched in 2014 under the watch of Premier David Makhura.  

This Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management (GDID) was launched to ensure that Gauteng would have proper social infrastructure to allow speedy delivery of basic services such as healthcare. Unfortunately for Makhura, this department is not living up to his vision as a trusted provider of integrated and smart public infrastructure.

Projects run by the department are often not completed on time and are frequently over budget.

Why is this concerning? There are a number of reasons infrastructure development is important for the province, the first being that it is a key driver of employment opportunities in the province, particularly among the jobless youth. It also gives small businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to do business with the government. Additionally, well-built and well-maintained infrastructure means that government can provide effective and unhindered services to residents.

In the face of the high rate of in-migration into Gauteng, the province needs more schools, hospitals, clinics and libraries. The government also has to ensure the infrastructure that already exists is properly maintained. In the case of several government buildings in the province, we have seen that this is something that it has been unable to get right.

When buildings are not properly built due to shoddy workmanship and subsequently not properly maintained, lives can be lost — as we saw in the Bank of Lisbon fire. 

The fire at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital has severely affected the delivery of health services to residents. Those who rely on healthcare services provided by the state must now travel much further to get the treatment they need. Patients are waiting longer for treatment and have to endure even longer queues.

Makhura was right when he admitted in his State of the Province Address that GDID has failed the residents of Gauteng. This became glaringly obvious when the Covid-19 pandemic hit our shores and we needed our social infrastructure to be sound. Cracks started showing almost immediately.

Our hospitals were not adequately equipped to deal with the influx of patients. At great cost, a field hospital had to be set up to meet expected demand and the government ended up spending money on the Anglo Ashanti Gold Hospital, which was not even its asset to begin with.

Because no new schools have been built in nearly two years, parents of learners are now having to seek places for their children at schools that are much further away from where they live. This is yet another burden for learners who have been subjected to rotational learning, because so many schools are overcrowded and would not have been able to implement physical distancing in the space available to them.

It is easy to point to the flaws in our social infrastructure. The question is, how do we fix it? 

First off, GDID needs to be dissolved and the MEC for Infrastructure Development and Property Management should be removed. It does not make sense to keep a department that is supposed to help drive employment opportunities for jobless residents if it is unable to properly manage its mandate.

If the premier is serious about ensuring that our provincial economy grows and that we are able to attract more investment from the private sector, he would allow the departments currently dependent on the GDID to manage their own projects and ensure that they are completed on time and within budget.

Service delivery can no longer be hampered by an incapable department while our economy suffers and the unemployment rate continues to soar. DM


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