Community and Charity

City of Cape Town to spend R4 million on repairs and maintenance for Early Child Development centers

The City of Cape Town is working hard to balance the need in terms of its Early Childhood Development (ECD) Programme repairs and maintenance budget for the 2015/16 financial year.

The Programme is responsible for 30 properties across the city that are owned by the City’s Social Development and Early Childhood Directorate – the bulk of which are used for Early Childhood Development purposes and leased to private operators. The centres – some existing and others fairly new – are designed to meet specifications for Early Childhood Development centres in terms of the Children’s Act. The City spends millions of rands every year to build more such facilities, but also to keep existing ones in line with the provisions of the Act.

A recent assessment of the properties resulted in a to-do list of at least 118 proactive maintenance and repair jobs, including repainting facilities; installing synthetic grass and paving; and repairing broken tiles, fencing, windows, doors, burglar bars, plumbing, roofs, gutters, electrical installations and alarm systems.

“A cursory analysis of the faults reported indicates that at least 30% of the work that we need to do is the result of vandalism or theft. This is a great pity because it simply undermines the quality start to education that we are trying to offer more and more young children. Public facilities tend to be soft targets for criminals, but the fact is that no amount of security will change the situation. Instead, communities need to start valuing the services and facilities that are effectively there for their benefit and take ownership.”

“Although we have budgeted for repairs and maintenance, this is R4 million that we could have spent more constructively. We will also have to be very careful to ensure that we can complete all the work with the available budget,” said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Social Development and Early Childhood Development, Councillor Suzette Little.

Of the 30 facilities, three require no maintenance, while seven others require very little work.

The list of jobs identified does not include emergency repairs and maintenance that may be required for the remainder of the financial year. In such cases, notifications are created and sent to the City’s maintenance department for attention and action.

“There is no guarantee that the budget set aside for repairs and maintenance will be sufficient, which is why we need to prevent any future incidents through partnerships with the our lessees but also the surrounding communities. There is a big difference between wear-and-tear and malicious damage to property and, frankly, we still see far too much damage that is caused deliberately,” added Councillor Little.

Four ECDs have been particularly hard hit by vandalism. These are the Sunshine ECD in Bellville, Uvuyolwethu Enrichment Centre in Delft South, Little Bambinos in Retreat, and Sing for Africa in Happy Valley.

The City is also in the process of finalising the appointment of a service provider to perform a comprehensive assessment of all 30 facilities. The assessment is set to get underway in February 2016.