Picture: Matthew Jordaan/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Cape Town – The Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes the time has come for a major shake-up of the City’s municipal bureaucracy because it is strangling growth and job creation.

Developments worth billions of rand had been abandoned because of bureaucratic delays, the Chamber said on Wednesday. This was revealed at a two-day conference of the Western Cape Property Development Forum last week, which has contributed to a crisis in the construction industry where hundreds of thousands of jobs have already been lost.

“Our city council is supposed to enable business and encourage good development but they have now become a disabling force,” said Chamber president Geoff Jacobs.

One example given at the conference was a R1.6 billion development project at the old City Park hospital which was aborted as a result of bureaucratic delays. “This was a R1.6 billion investment which was lost because of incompetence,” said Jacobs. 

“We have also seen how the whole Foreshore Freeway project was called off after several firms and consortiums had spent many millions of rand on some outstanding proposals. Investments would have poured into Cape Town but we lost out because of municipal bungling.

“We have an excellent organisation like Wesgro which has brought major investments to the Cape, but we are let down when it takes four to eight years to get planning approval for projects. The city council seems to have no idea of how much these delays cost and how they destroy viable projects.”

There has been a major forensic investigation into the department that deals with planning and transport and the head of the department has been sitting at home for more than a year on suspension drawing a salary in excess of R3 million a year while questions about expensive Chinese electric buses and Volvo bus chassis remain unanswered, the Chamber said.

“Contrast this situation with the ongoing world-class, scandal-free development at the Waterfront, which falls outside the municipal area and does not require planning permission or building plan approvals from the City of Cape Town,” said Jacobs.

“The heart of the problem is over-regulation and red tape administered by a growing staff of fabulously well-paid officials who are simply not doing their jobs. The situation is unacceptable.”

Cape Times