R82 million Gauteng school built in waterlogged area deemed a ‘death trap’

The Gauteng Legislature is considering laying criminal charges against the provincial Department of Infrastructure Development and Property Management (IDPM) officials and a contractor involved in the construction of a school in a waterlogged area in Tembisa.

The decision was unanimously agreed upon during a joint meeting of the legislature’s Portfolio Committees on Infrastructure Development and Property Management and Education on Thursday.

“The committee is currently in the process of consulting the legislature’s legal team to ascertain the legalities of such a move,” the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Infrastructure Development, Mpho Modise, said in a statement.

Both committees further agreed that a letter should be written to premier David Makhura to request that he institute an investigation that will lead to disciplinary action against officials, who were responsible for overseeing the construction of the school.

During a recent oversight visit to Mayibuye Primary School, the committee assessed the standard and quality of work done by contractors in infrastructure development projects in the province.

“The multimillion rand school – which was supposed to be occupied in 2017 – stands as a white elephant after the department failed to obtain an occupancy certificate due to the dangerous conditions in which the school was built,” Modise said.

The department has to date spent R82 000 000 on the school.

The committee established that the school was constructed in contravention of the National Building Regulations and Building Standard Act 103, 1977, as amended.

In its assessment of the school, the committee came to the conclusion that the occupancy of the school might be a death trap to learners and educators, as the wetland has the possibility to weaken the building structure, which might collapse on those occupying it.

“This might leave government with only two options of spending more millions remedying the situation or demolishing the building, as it is deemed dangerous for occupation, and to avoid the building being used as a haven for criminals or illegal land invaders.

This would mean that the millions of rands invested in the construction of the school has gone to waste,” Modise said.

On entering the school, Modise said the committee was greeted by flowing raw sewerage with an unbearable smell, which has also become a health hazard for passers-by and the surrounding community.

The school structure continues to deteriorate, with many defects such as collapsing ceilings, cracking tiles and walls, as well as flooding water around the school, which has remained unoccupied and neglected for over three years.

The committee is of the view that appropriate action must be taken against those who were involved in the wastage caused by building a school on a waterlogged site. Failure for appropriate action to be taken will signal the wrong message about the lack of accountability and consequence management in the province.

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R82 million Gauteng school built in waterlogged area deemed a ‘death trap’