After spending R69m on the now abandoned international softball stadium in the city, Polokwane Municipality on Tuesday approved the spending of an additional R184m in an effort to salvage the project.
An amount of R90m was initially earmarked for the project, funded from a Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG), which was later reduced to R85m. Bo Mamohlala Projects was appointed in September 2020 to construct the facility. The contractor vacated the site in January 2023 following a dispute with the municipality, and after having being paid approximately R50m – representing 84% of the contracted amount although the project’s physical progress was only at 43% according to a report that was tabled in council. Professional fees paid as yet also amounted to more than R19m.
According to the report, a new assessment to complete the project within the current scope amounts to an additional amount of R184m of which the municipality would have to co-fund an amount of R90m, which would severely impact other approved capital projects also being funded from the Integrated Urban Development Grant (IUDG). Projects currently funded by the IUDG range from roads projects, waste transfer stations, electrical infrastructure and other rural sports facilities. Errors and omissions in the original bill of quantities as well as additional professional fees are quoted as the reason for the cost escalation.
In the council meeting, the DA spoke out against the approval and subsequent rubber stamping of the additional funding, and voted against the approval of additional money, which was supported by the official opposition, the EFF.
“We believe the scope should be dramatically reduced in order to complete the project and avoid the project ending up as a white elephant. The current projections are that the stadium, if completed within current estimates, would cost over R251m in the end,” DA caucus leader Jacques Joubert said and added that, if ever completed, the facility will have three softball fields, a practice field and associated 3 500-seater concrete grand stand for field A, steel and timber grands for fields B and C and associated buildings. “We are not convinced that all this is necessary,” Joubert said.
“Although we understand that sport is great in promoting physical health, fostering social cohesion and encouraging community building, this cannot come at any cost. The question begs asking is if this project would have seen the light of day if there were no errors or omissions in the bill of quantities, as the cost is astronomical. We demand that proper consequence management be implemented against all parties responsible,” Joubert said.
The municipality has a proven track record of poor spending on capital projects, returning grant funding due to poor performance of over R135m to treasury earlier this year. The recent Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) by the Minister of Finance clearly highlighted the pressure on municipal capital projects and a further capital grant reduction is expected in the near future by National Treasury.
“Residents of the city cannot afford other crucial projects to be affected by incompetence, poor planning and mismanagement deficiencies of the current administration and demand a proper investigation by the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) on the matter,” Joubert concluded.
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