Lucrative roads contracts in the Free State have been marred by disruptions and delays largely due to political interference, the DA said. File picture: Pexels

Johannesburg - Several lucrative roads contracts in the Free State province have been marred by disruptions and delays largely due to political interference and unrealistic contractual requirements, the main opposition Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.

The party said this had come to light during oversight visits the Free State legislature’s portfolio committee on infrastructure conducted across the province last week.

It said extended delays on the R261 million P44/1&2 Deneysville to Jim Fouché road rehabilitation project, a 44 km stretch of road which has been underway since May 2016, had motivated the community of Deneysville and Oranjeville to submit a petition to the legislature.

"The delays have seen the thriving tourism industry in the area grind to a complete halt," DA member of the provincial legislature Leona Kleynhans said. "Occupational health and safety regulations at this project has been flouted which have resulted in the deaths of six workers since the inception of the project."

The R256 million rehabilitation project for the 50km stretch of road between Vredefort and Viljoenskroon awarded to Sedtrade in September 2017 had seen several major disruptions due to labour disputes and challenges with borrow pits, the DA said. 

Similarly, the R168 million P33/2 Bothaville to Viljoenskroon project had been plagued by community protests and disputes, while the start of construction in the R184 million repair of the 48.6km road from Wesselsbron to Hoopstad was delayed to January 2018 due to community unrest related to the employment of labour and sub-contractors. 

"It appears that across all roads projects there is a tendency for strong political interference," the DA said.

"While the DA welcomes any major infrastructure projects underway in the Free State, it is unacceptable that these projects are suffering continuous delays which have a negative impact on the local economies as well as severe cost escalations."

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African News Agency (ANA)