Uproar over delayed R500m boarding school project in Mkhondo

Questions have been raised about the much-publicised Mkhondo Boarding School in Piet Retief, Mpumalanga over unprecedented delays in completing the project. 

The project, which commenced in 2018, was expected to be completed in 2019. Four years later there is no end in sight with funding challenges cited as the reason.

Last week, the Mpumalanga department of finance allocated additional R140-million towards the project, translating to more than R500-million that has been used despite the initial projected budget of R200-million.

The DA is the latest party to raise its reservations, saying the project is being used as a cash cow for ANC members.

Contractor abandons project

“A bigger concern, however, is that the main contractor who has now abandoned the project and subcontractors are complaining about not being paid or sometimes paid half for invoices submitted,” said Jane Sithole, the DA’s provincial spokesperson on education 

“The question is where is the money going if contractors are not paid?”

She also raised the alarm that although more than R525-million has been spent in the project, the boarding school is not even half-complete.

“During an oversight visit of the building site, we were also shocked to see shoddy workmanship,” she said.

“There are also incidents of vandalism with some doors and windows missing.”

It has been reported that roof trusses have been left uncovered and bags of cement have been left lying in the open.

It was also clear that the contractor used in the project was mediocre, as the gradient of the ground was not built at the right angle, evident from accumulating water dams when it rains, in turn causing more damage to the buildings.

The project was launched amid much fanfare and hailed that it would assist pupils around different farms in Mkhondo and surrounding areas who have to walk long distances to reach their respective schools.

In March of 2021, only about 75% of construction had been finished with noticeable delays experienced on site because of funding challenges.

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