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Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase and Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for planning, monitoring, and evaluation Pinky Kekana and other stakeholders during the site visit at the Siloam Hospital construction site. Photo: Maanda Bele.

Construction at Siloam hospital now at 34%, but not everyone is happy

 

The construction of the second phase of a new district hospital in Siloam is at 34% completion. This was revealed on Friday, 15 March, during the monitoring programme by the Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for planning, monitoring, and evaluation, Pinky Kekana.

The first phase, which includes the doctors’ residence, has already been completed. The second phase of the construction of the hospital started in 2022 and is set to be completed in 2026 with a budget of over R1.4-billion. So far, the mental ward and mortuary have been renovated and completed. Once Phase 2 is completed, the facility will offer round-the-clock medical services, including surgical, mental health, mortuary, paediatrics, and obstetrics services, as well as an infectious diseases section.

The current Siloam Hospital, which was built in the 1940s, is in a state of dilapidation. The hospital provides health services to residents of Nzhelele and surrounding areas.

Some community members have expressed concern about the new project, saying local people were not being prioritised regarding the awarding of tenders and employment. Before Kekana arrived, some community members gathered outside the hospital gate, threatening to strike. One of the community representatives, Mr Samuel Lusunzi, said the main contractor was not doing things in a transparent manner.

“The standing committee is not reporting back to the community. They promised 1,200 labourers, but we don't see them. They are not using proper building materials. This building will not last. I am not happy with the progress [and] when we try to speak out, they take us to court. They have a court interdict against us. We are not allowed to go near the construction site,” he said.

Kekana said the purpose of the visit was to assess the progress made in the construction. The deputy minister said she was not happy with the employment of foreign nationals at the hospital.

“We are excited about the progress, but when we engage with the ward councillors, we have challenges of SMME empowerment and appointing fully the local young professionals. My biggest concern is the utilisation of foreign nationals even in low-skill jobs or ordinary jobs like plastering. Our people are not working…,” she said. The minister was sceptical that local labourers could not be recruited. “This region produces many gifted and skilled learners from many walks of life; you cannot tell [me] that we can't find engineers,” she said.

The senior traditional leader, Mailausumbwa Kennedy Tshivhase, said he was happy with the progress of the construction. “This is not only going to help in taking care of our health, but also in terms of poverty alleviation. We hope that this hospital will also have better facilities, so that patients will not have to be transferred to other hospitals for some services,” he added.

 

 

Date:30 March 2024

By: Maanda Bele

Maanda  Bele, born and raised in Nzhelele Siloam, studied journalism at the Tshwane University of Technology.

He is passionate about current news and international affairs.

He worked as part of the Zoutnet team as an intern in 2017.

He is currently a freelance journalist specialising in news from the Vhembe district.

Read: 1940

 

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