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DPWI working to implement infrastructure as economic flywheel

23rd August 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) is responding to the national imperatives of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP) by implementing infrastructure delivery as the flywheel of the economy, job creation, transformation and fighting crime and corruption in the built environment, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Sihle Zikalala has said.

Providing an update on the Construction Industry Recovery Plan (CIRP), he noted that the DPWI was a key player in the economic sectors, investment drive, employment and infrastructure development cluster.

"As part of accelerating the sector contribution to the ERRP, provincial MECs endorsed the transformative CIRP. It provides a focused approach for the inclusive development of the construction industry and enables a focus on the entire infrastructure delivery and maintenance value chain. The CIRP is a construction industry-wide plan focusing on the public and private sectors," he said at the weekend.

South Africa has a strong core network of national economic infrastructure, but investment in infrastructure has lagged over the past decade. In addition to reviving the construction sector, a significant infrastructure push will support local manufacturing and other related sectors across the value chain, he noted.

There has also been a post-COVID-19 improvement in the residential property investment in the country of almost R2.8-trillion to R6.7-trillion.

"We will unveil the full CIRP plan soon as part of our efforts to revitalise the construction sector and build a construction industry that will meet current and future demands," Zikalala said.

Additionally, three Strategic Infrastructure Projects (SIPs) are expected to be completed within this financial year, including the SIP 24 Hull Street Social Housing Project Phase 1, in the Northern Cape, and the Newcastle Hospital Street Social Housing Project, with 500 units of 1 056 completed, in KwaZulu-Natal, projects.

The Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University student accommodation, in Gauteng, under SIP 34, is expected to be completed during the financial year. The total investment value of the projects to be completed is estimated to be around R17.5-billion.

Further, in providing an update on resolving blocked and stalled projects, Zikalala said the DPWI's apex priority was turning South Africa into a construction site.

"This process culminated in us visiting various provinces to assess the implementation of projects and elevating as a priority unblocking of blocked or stalled projects. These projects include courts, police stations and correctional facilities, among others.

"We are making important headways and many, such as the Parys correctional facility and the magistrate courts, such as in Mamelodi, are being put back to schedule. We expect to hand over the Port Sheptone magistrate court and Manguzi police station soon," he said.

To unblock and address challenges of stalled projects, the DPWI has instituted measures, including identifying all delayed projects and their challenges, and put in place intervention measures with clear actions plans with start and finish dates, followed by strong monitoring mechanisms for implementation targeting various role players to management level.

"Turnkey implementation methodology has been adopted and will reduce the longer duration periods associated with project planning, design and procurement. The close monitoring of projects will be enhanced by the establishment of the outsourced programme management units that we are in the process of establishing," he said.

Meanwhile, another programme the DPWI will roll out relates to the lift replacement and maintenance programme. The programme, at this stage, is estimated to cost between R600-million and R1-billion.

"Similar to the workshops insourcing programme, there will be a deliberate programme of including women, youth owned contractors. We will launch this programme shortly," he noted.

The department also reported that it was making progress with the Welisizwe rural bridges. It aims to build 96 rural bridges, with a total of R3.6-billion approved from the Budget Facility for Infrastructure (BFI) over a period of three years.

"The funding covers six provinces which are the Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West. The Department of Defence, which is our lead implementing agent, has visited all provinces and work is ongoing. We will soon make announcements on the unveiling of this key infrastructure for our rural communities," Zikalala said.

CONSTRUCTION MAFIA
Additionally, since law enforcement agencies are prioritising this crime, there is a glimmer of hope that eventually the country will win the war against those involved in extortion, hijacking and disruption of construction sites, he averred.

"While the practice is still rife and keeps moving to other areas, using intimidation as a tactic, we are confident that we will overcome this criminal practice. To assist the construction sector, we are establishing a call centre for speedy reporting of construction disruptions and this will support the assigned law enforcement units on this priority crime.

"It is important that police act swiftly and those involved are caught in the act. We appeal to construction companies not to be cowed into submission by this criminal conduct," Zikalala added.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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