Construction mafia, rates non-payment by state entities top KZN Public Works MEC’s to-do list

Public Works and Infrastructure MEC Martin Meyer. | KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works/ Facebook

Public Works and Infrastructure MEC Martin Meyer. | KwaZulu-Natal Department of Public Works/ Facebook

Published Jun 26, 2024


Durban — The construction mafia, non-payment of rates by KwaZulu-Natal’s government-owned facilities, the re-purposing of under-utilised government department buildings and addressing infrastructure challenges top Public Works and Infrastructure MEC Martin Meyer’s to-do list.

That was according to DA KZN legislature deputy chief whip Hannah Winkler, who said the newly appointed MEC has hit the ground running since his appointment last week.

“One of MEC Meyer’s biggest challenges lies in the form of the construction mafia which continues to threaten not only lives but the provincial economy.

“In this regard, he has already issued a zero-tolerance warning and will be forming a task team to tackle the issue head-on,” Winkler said.

“Another departmental challenge is the non-payment of rates by KZN government-owned facilities.”

Meyer dealt with this issue last week at several Msunduzi schools, where the municipality has a track record of disconnecting lights and water.

This took place at numerous schools during last year’s trial exam period, causing havoc.

It was revealed that the primary account holder and entity responsible for such payments was the Department of Public Works (DPW).

Msunduzi, despite being aware of this, held the schools accountable.

Winkler said further investigation showed that while the municipality was enacting a measure of last resort by cutting utilities, it had not engaged with the department to resolve the outstanding payments through the Intergovernmental Forum (IGF) -- a government mechanism for dialogue and resolution under such circumstances.

Through his swift action, Meyer ensured the payment of outstanding rates by the DPW to Msunduzi, thereby avoiding the disconnection of school utilities.

“Another priority for the MEC is the re-purposing of under-utilised provincial government department buildings – including offices – and addressing infrastructure challenges within KZN’s schools, hospitals and clinics,” Winkler said.

Meyer will also deal with so-called bad buildings and vacant land and engage with the national DPW where they do not fall within the provincial jurisdiction, she said.

“While the challenges within the department are massive, they can be overcome with strong political will.

“The DA has every expectation that under MEC Meyer, this is a department that will work for the people of KZN in rebuilding our province,” Winkler said.

The department said Meyer met top management during a Special Extended Management Committee meeting held at the Archie Gumede Conference Centre in Mayville, eThekwini, on Monday.

Addressing government technocrats, Meyer provided a clear direction and guidance on immediate short-term strategies and solutions to be implemented to address the department’s challenges.

Meyer also unpacked in detail the goals and expectations of the recently established infrastructure portfolio which will further enhance the department’s daily operations.

“The government is moving in a new direction of co-operative governance, it is therefore important for us to embrace the exciting task ahead to rebuild the province and work together in serving the community of KwaZulu-Natal,” Meyer said.

He will also conduct a skills audit exercise and reinforce the implementation of consequence management across all categories of staff.

Additionally, Meyer seeks to solicit long-term solutions for the ageing infrastructure as he plans to re-purpose redundant, under-utilised, and abandoned government buildings to benefit the people of KZN.

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