21 years later, Gauteng government precinct remains a costly dream

Old Transport building in Fox street Johannesburg. Picture: Sipho Jack

Old Transport building in Fox street Johannesburg. Picture: Sipho Jack

Published Mar 16, 2024


Twenty-one years later, the Gauteng Provincial Government’s (GPG) plans to accommodate all abandoned government buildings in one precinct remains a dream.

The Kopanong Precinct Project, formerly known as the Gauteng Provincial Government Precinct, was launched in 2003 and was expected to be completed in three to five years.

The project arose from the GPG’s ownership of its 19 buildings in the central business district that needed to be refurbished.

According to the Gauteng government website, construction would have involved the rehabilitation and redevelopment of up to 21 buildings in the CBD.

DA shadow MEC for for Infrastructure Development and Property Management, Alan Fuchs, said the project failed to see light of day due to the department’s manipulation of the tender processes in an attempt to irregularly propose the appointment of companies for construction, as well as the operation of the precinct.

“The project, which was first mooted in 2003, has been plagued by many false starts and has at some point been impacted by former Gauteng politicians Mbhazima Shilowa, Paul Mashatile and Nomvula Mokonyane.

“In 2015, the Gauteng government announced that the project would be resurrected as a Public Private Partnership, that the construction valued at R7.5 billion would be carried out over five years and that the operation of the precinct over a 30-year period would cost taxpayers R59bn.

“The audit report indicated that not a single bidder for the work was compliant with all the requirements. Some of the bids ignored mandatory pre-qualification criteria, submitted invalid equity ownership and BEE certificates, and did not comply with legislation related to sub-contracting of local labour.

“As a result, the audit report recommended that the tender be cancelled and re-advertised,” said Fuchs.

The DA shadow minister said that in 2022 the process of evaluating tenders was deemed to be non-compliant with prescribed legislation and policies, adding that this proved the wheels of government were turning very slowly and, he called into question the motives of officials who ignored legislated regulations and policies.

“Government has lost the confidence of Gauteng residents due to years of inefficiency and wastage as a result government’s inability to efficiently implement high impact infrastructure such as the Kopanong Precinct.

“One hopes that this manipulation is not a last gasp attempt by cadres to extract the maximum amount of money from the public purse before they are voted out of power in 2024.”

Speaking with Independent Media, Infrastructure Development spokesperson Alfred Nhlapo said the Kopanong project was still part of the government project. He said all the identified government buildings would be included in the precinct.

“All GPG-owned buildings in the JHB CBD are part of 17 such facilities identified for inclusion in the planned Kopanong Government Precinct Project. Further announcements will be made in due course.”

Former Gauteng premier David Makhura said at the time that the province would spend more than R94bn on social and economic infrastructure projects. However, this, he said, was still not enough to meet the province’s infrastructure needs.

Makhura disclosed that the project would require R1.67 trillion in infrastructure investment over the next 15 years, adding that the government could not raise it alone.

It was expected that the new precinct would feature skywalks between buildings and a new square, while the rehabilitation of the buildings would incorporate green technologies such as solar panels and rooftop gardens to reduce the precinct’s maintenance costs and carbon footprint.

Saturday Star

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