SA making progress on infrastructure build: PICC

South Africa is a major construction site, with about 1 132 individual, active construction sites creating employment for about 178 000 people on projects monitored by the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC).

The commission held a lengthy meeting on Wednesday, where progress on these projects – with a value of R750 billion – and other infrastructure development matters were thrashed out.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, President Jacob Zuma said he was happy with the development progress of the country.

“The meeting took longer because of the volume of the matters on the agenda, such as the progress report on infrastructure build. We had lots of discussions and we are certain that we are making progress,” said Zuma.

National Infrastructure Plan

The PICC brings together representatives of the three spheres of government, Cabinet ministers, premiers, metro mayors and the South African Local Government Association representatives — where they look to harmonise developments in the National Infrastructure Plan.

The commission met for hours in Pretoria on Wednesday to look at the successes and challenges in the roll out of the 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (Sips), which currently make up the country’s multibillion rand National Infrastructure Plan.

The plan looks to transform the economic landscape, while simultaneously creating a significant number of new jobs and straightening service delivery.

The Sips cover various projects of economic and social infrastructure projects, such as schools, hospitals and new power stations.

PICC tracking state’s capital spending

“The important thing about the [PICC] is that it puts together all tiers of government to discuss issues from a national, collective point of view,” said Zuma.

Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, who is also the chair of the PICC, said the commission currently tracks almost half of the state’s capital spending and the whole of government infrastructure spending.

Patel said during the term of the current administration, which ends next year, the country was on course to reach spending of R1 trillion on infrastructure projects.

The state, according to Patel, was spending about twice as much on infrastructure now than it did five years ago.

The minister attributed the increase in infrastructure expenditure to projects such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup and associated projects.

The increase, he added, was also due to construction cartels, which have pushed up the cost of building.

However, government was now looking at new building technologies and innovative building, which could reduce construction costs.

Collusion, corruption in construction industry

Patel said the PICC meeting also discussed the investigation showing evidence of pervasive price fixing, collusion and corruption in the private construction industry.

On 24 June, the Competition Commission reached a settlement with 15 construction firms, who agreed to pay fines to the tune of R1.46 billion for collusive tendering.

Patel said government had noted civil claims against the construction companies implicated in the collusion, saying the commission was of the view that they worked against public interest.

However, action was also taken to rebuild relations with the industry which, he said, was key to implementing the infrastructure plan.

Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti, who was also at the meeting, noted that infrastructure build gave government a stronger grip on developing the economy.

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