Gauteng government sets deadline to eradicate asbestos schools
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Johannesburg - The Gauteng government has vowed to eradicate asbestos structured schools in the province and to create safe learning environment for thousands of pupils who were learning under those life-threatening conditions.
The announcement was made by Finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko, when she delivered her budget speech in the Gauteng provincial legislature last week.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said the Gauteng Infrasture Financing Agency (which falls under the provincial Treasury) has increased its infrastructure projects to at least 35 projects – with an estimated value of more than R45 billion.
“We will continue to develop these projects to a bankable stage, to attract private sector funding over the medium-term period,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
She further said: “GIFA is working closely with the Department of Education and Gauteng provincial Treasury to find an optimal solution to fund the construction of schools on greenfield (new) sites and brownfield sites, to replace old structures, asbestos structures and mobile schools.
“This project will help towards alleviating the pressures of the need for schools in Gauteng,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
The government’s announcement came after the Gauteng Education Department suffered attacks from the DA, for its alleged failure to eradicate asbestos structured schools, in all the five regions of the province.
Gauteng DA’s education spokesperson Khume Ramulifho recently told the media that the Gauteng Education department should have used the R431 million, which they used for deep-cleaning schools, on eradicating asbestos in Gauteng schools.
“Of these 25 asbestos schools identified, only two are in the construction phase, while 10 are in the feasibility stage, six schools are in the inception stage, two schools are in the concept stage, three schools are in the design stage, one school is in the tender preparation stage, and another one is in the retention stage,” said Ramulifho.
According to medical reports, if the asbestos structures become dilapidated, fibres are released into the air and, if inhaled, can cause deadly respiratory diseases, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and cancer.
During the budget speech, Nkomo-Ralehoko also revealed plans to refurbish all government-owned buildings – especially the Kopanong Precinct, which includes the seat of the Gauteng provincial legislature.
“The selection process of constructors for Kopanong Precinct is at an advanced stage. We will appoint preferred contractors by the end of September this year and construction is expected to start once all contracts, for the four clusters, have been concluded.
“The project will be delivered as a PPP (Public Private Partnership) to ensure the delivery of well-maintained government buildings, in a cost-effective manner,” she said.
Nkomo-Ralehoko said that would ensure a safe and conducive working environment for Gauteng provincial government employees.
She also said that the national Treasury has approved the South African National Space Agency’s (Sansa) application to enter into a 10-year lease agreement, as the anchor tenant within the Innovation Hub.
“Space planning designs, to suitably accommodate Sansa, will be completed by end of June 2021. The private party will complete contractual arrangements with Sansa by September 2021,” she said.
Nkomo-Ralehoko also announced that the Rooftop Solar PV: Phase 1 project was at the advance stage of financial closure, saying the finalisation of connectivity agreements with municipalities was in progress and this would be followed by obtaining the generation licenses from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).