The Gauteng Infrastructure Development Department has awarded four contracts worth R22.5 million to an air-conditioning company despite their failure to complete any project on time.
Cool Breeze Air Conditioning and Refrigeration CC
This information concerning Cool Breeze Air Conditioning and Refrigeration CC has come to light in a written reply by Gauteng Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
In the worst case, their incompetence led to all surgery being halted at the Pretoria West Hospital for two-and-half years because they took so long to do a 5 month job installing air-conditioning in the operating theatres.
Gauteng Hospitals Affected
Contracts awarded to this company are as follows:
Air-conditioning for Leratong Hospital theatres in 2010/11 for R7.995 million;
Upgrade of air-conditioners at neo-natal ICU at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in 2011/12 for R3 million;
Installation of chiller plant at Pretoria West Hospital in 2012/13 for R5.64 million; and
Additional oxygen and vacuum points at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital in 2013/14 for R5.8 million.
Unreliable Companies Getting Contracts
According to Mayathula-Khoza, penalties have been imposed and the company has been put on terms to complete the Pretoria West installation on a revised date.
My concern is that this unreliable company keeps getting contracts even though it has never finished any hospital contract on time, leading to major disruption for staff and patients.
I suspect that there may be a political connection that assists the company in getting contracts despite repeated non-performance.
This company should be barred from any further hospital contracts.
The re-opening of operating theatres at the Pretoria West Hospital has been delayed by more than two years because of a slow air-conditioning contractor.
This is revealed in a written reply by Infrastructure Development MEC Nandi Mayathula-Khoza to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.
The refurbishment started on 12 October 2012 and was supposed to be completed on 1 February 2013.
But according to Mayathula-Khoza, Cool Breeze Air-conditioning and Refrigeration started the installation late and a strained relationship between them and a sub-contractor also contributed to the delay.
The handover of the project will be later this month, but the theatres won’t be operational for several more months as testing and deep cleaning needs to be done.
Warning letters were sent to the contractor on 28 October 2014 and 24 November 2014. They are currently placed on terms and incurring penalties of R2846 per day.
R4.5 million has so far been spent on this project, and it is expected that another R1.132 million will be spent to complete it.
It is outrageous that a 5 month project has taken more than two and a half years, during which time no surgery could be performed at the hospital and patients had to be transferred elsewhere for operations.
Infrastructure Development Department needs a shake-up
It is yet another example of the department’s abysmal incompetence that includes a poor choice of contractor and a lack of project management to avoid delays.
For instance, why was the first warning letter only sent in October 2014 when the project was supposed to be finished 20 months earlier?
Meanwhile, patients have suffered because surgery could not be done at the hospital.
The Infrastructure Development Department needs a management shake-up to ensure that hospital projects are completed expeditiously.