Gauteng’s Department of Infrastructure Development (DID) has taken a hardline stance towards delivering quality infrastructure projects on time and on budget, to the point that Infrastructure Development MEC Jacob Mamabolo has said there would no longer be any excuses for any project not moving forward.
A critical development area that has typically been marred by weakness, delays and poor performance, efficient and effective management of government properties and the effective deployment of infrastructure have been the DID’s core focus over the past 18 months of Mamabolo’s tenure.
Speaking to media during a breakfast roundtable on Thursday, Mamabolo assured that the department had transformed into an “efficient project delivery machine”, simultaneously “cracking the code” for infrastructure delivery.
“We have reached a point in the department where we have stabilised our operations, we have stabilised our [project] pipeline, we have stabilised our delivery processes,” he said.
With the combination of the new Project Readiness Matrix (PRM), the completed Immovable Asset Register and the department’s year-old electronic monitoring hub and project nerve centre, Lutsinga Infrastructure House, Gauteng’s building and construction industry’s notorious reputation for delays in delivery, poor quality, high cost overruns, waste of resources, inefficiencies and ineffectiveness should be a thing of the past.
The PRM is a proprietary tool developed in-house to monitor the more than 160 non-negotiable steps that need to be taken to get a project from conception to completion, and it has become a tool of “transparency, compliance and accountability”, according to Mamabolo.
It ensures that no project moves into the development phase before all the necessary steps have been taken and that a project complies with and meets the minimum set standards at each stage to ensure that the project is ready for implementation projects.
It then tracks every step in the process until the project is fully completed, removing uncertainties, clearing delays and reducing confusion – all factors that impact on the quality, cost and time of project delivery.
“We are in infrastructure delivery, we are not playing tennis,” he said, referring to the back and forth that had traditionally characterised project processes.
The matrix has now been applied to 152 projects, holding an aggregate value of R2.4-billion, across the various project stages, “priming” them for execution without delay.
This means that there are no more excuses, beyond factors out of government’s control, when it comes to delivering these infrastructure projects within the stipulated timeframe and budgets, as they have been proven project ready.
“There is no excuse for us not to deliver these projects on time, within budget and to the right quality. As government we have a responsibility to be accountable and answerable. We must ensure that every cent entrusted to us is spent in a responsible and ethical way. We must be able to account for every cent, and with this tool we are able to do that,” explained Mamabolo.
This will be done with the assistance of Lutsinga Infrastructure House, which uses technology to track spending and project milestones, and is home to the Immovable Asset Register, the Construction and Built Project Management Dashboard, the Expanded Public Works Programme Dashboard, the E-maintenance Dashboard and an infrastructure monitor that measures and reports on the socioeconomic impact of the DID’s work.
“This has been a major turning point for us,” Mamabolo said, commenting on the developmental capabilities that the initiative instilled in the DID.
He further committed to ensuring that underused or neglected government properties are managed more efficiently and effectively and that any properties not core to government’s delivery mandate are disposed of to eliminate the wasting of public funds to maintain unproductive assets.
Meanwhile, the Immovable Asset Register shows a comprehensive database of government’s property portfolio valued at some R30-billion.
“Starting next week, consistent with the law, all government buildings that are lying across the province, wasted or used as hideouts by criminals. . . We are going to clear all that,” he said.
The DID also plans to “recycle” its assets, where possible, to ensure that each property is efficiently maximised and fully utilised for public benefit.