The Democratic Alliance (DA) will be engaging the MEC for Roads and Transport, Jacob Mamabolo regarding the gross underspending by the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport during the 2019/20 financial year budget.
This information was revealed in the Department’s annual report, where, according to the Auditor-General, the material underspending for the Department amounted to R637 million.
This has resulted in a 77% increase in underspending compared to the previous financial year, where the department underspent by R359,6 million. It is concerning to note that some of the underspending occurred in the Transport Infrastructure programme to the tune of R81 million. According to the annual report, there was underspending on construction as a result of service providers not being appointed as planned due to unanticipated challenges during the tender process, and the construction of a road not proceeding due to land grabbing.
Furthermore, this Department has also failed to meet its target of 11 designs to be completed for the 2019/20 financial year due to delays in the appointment of the probity auditors and probity audit processes. In addition, the target of creating 250 Expanded Public Works Programme jobs was not met where the Department only managed to create 62.
Some of the key causes of this under expenditure is failure in the supply chain management process that awards tenders and thus delays projects and resultant expenditure. Non-performing contractors further exacerbates the problem. Not only does this lead to delays in the road construction programme of the province but is also over-inflates the price tag for delayed projects.
Material underspending by this Department has resulted in further decline in the quality of the province’s roads. Ensuring that roads are well maintained is important if the Department is committed to seeing a reduction in road accidents and fatalities. This underspending could also lead to the Department losing more money when the new budget is allocated after failing to spend the total of their previous budget.
Underspending by this Department is now becoming the norm. Political leadership is vital to steer the Department in the right direction so that road infrastructure service delivery can be effectively and optimally rolled out.