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The Makhado Municipality is shifting the blame for the delay in the long-awaited Waterval Stadium onto the contractor of Phase 2. Photo: Thembi Siaga.

Municipality blames contractor for incomplete Waterval Stadium

 

The residents of Waterval and the surrounding areas have long awaited the completion of the multi-million-rand Waterval Stadium, a project that commenced seven years ago. However, delays continue to plague the project. Makhado Municipality now admits that the contractor appointed for Phase 2 of the project is to blame for this. The municipality has decided to replace this contractor with a new service provider to finish the work.

The process of transforming the local sports grounds into a community stadium began in early 2017, but residents complain that the work does not seem to be coming to an end.

According to an older budget document, the municipality had set aside R11 million for Phase 2 in 2018/19, with a further R9 million allocated to the project in 2020/21. The tender for the third and final stage of the project amounted to R28.4 million. In Makhado Municipality’s final annual budget for 2023/24-2025/26, an additional R2 million is allocated for the construction of paving blocks.

The contractor for Phase 2, the DIGES Group, was responsible for paving a parking area, constructing a soccer pitch and athletic tracks, fencing off the athletics tracks, drilling and equipping a borehole, and installing two 10,000-litre water tanks. According to the municipality, the outstanding work left comprises surfacing the athletics tracks and grassing. The original tender value was R10,971,330.

Douglas Mafanele, a resident of Waterval, explained the impact these delays have had on the community. “Since the project began, all community sports activities have been forced to a halt because there is no alternative sports ground here. Despite our efforts to negotiate for an alternative sports ground, it did not materialize. Because of this, many of our youths have turned to drugs and criminal activities because there’s nothing to keep them busy. We couldn’t even hold activities for the heritage celebrations,” he said.

Another resident, who wished to remain anonymous, expressed their frustration, saying that if the municipality had lost the battle on this project, they should just inform the community, so that they could collectively find a way forward. “We suspect that funds may have been misused, and we question the municipality’s commitment to fulfilling its promises. We suspect that they are protecting those who have misused the funds to complete the only stadium we have,” he said.

Work on the third phase of the project commenced in 2019, but the contractor, Dr. Crosby Mulungwa, who is the owner/manager of Valcross Trading Enterprise, denied that his company was responsible for the delays. He too pointed a finger at the contractor who was supposed to complete Phase 2.

The scope of work for Phase 3 entails the construction of a 2,000-seat precast pavilion, gabions, buttresses, an ablution block with changing rooms, and the construction of a guardhouse.

In December last year, Makhado Municipality’s spokesperson, Mr. Louis Bobodi, said that the smooth flow of the construction was hampered and delayed by, among other issues, the installation of a power transformer. However, it now appears that the real reason behind the delays is that the DIGES Group constantly missed the deadlines. Bobodi said the municipality is currently finalising specifications for the tender advert to appoint a new contractor to complete the outstanding work.

When asked whether the allocated funds were sufficient to complete the project, Bobodi said the actual amount required could only be determined after the appointment of the new contractor. “Any additional funds needed will be catered for during budget adjustments,” he said.

Regarding concerns about the misuse of funds, Bobodi said that the municipality was not aware of such issues.

 

 

Date:21 October 2023

By: Thembi Siaga

Thembi Siaga started as an intern during 2021. He assisted with video photography and editing. He also produced numerous small documentaries, focusing on the Vhembe region and its people. Currently he works as a freelance journalist, covering stories in the Elim area.

Thembi studied at the Tshwane University of Technology, where he completed his diploma in Journalism in 2021.

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