Residents want a piece of the building pie

Krishnee Govender-Moller, senior programme manager for the provincial Department of Health; Zoheeb Shakur, project leader for the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works; and Dawid Potgieter, architect from Rise Architects.

Mitchell’s Plain community workers and patients of Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre (CHC) are concerned whether local businesses, contractors and the community would benefit financially from the renovation of the day hospital’s reception area.

More than 20 people attended a community engagement session at Beaconvale Community Frail Centre, in Beacon Valley, on Thursday June 13, to discuss and be informed about the day hospital’s three patient folder filing rooms to be combined into one and the waiting area to be doubled in size.

They asked about service delivery being affected, including whether the dust and noise would affect patients and whether local labour, contractors and the community liaison officer would be contracted to work on site.

Krishnee Govender-Moller, senior programme manager for the provincial Department of Health, said the project would possibly be below R5 million and that this precluded them from having to put the project out to tender, as a framework contractor had been appointed as it was a maintenance project.

Community worker Carol Mentor, from Beacon Valley, asked whether Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) workers would be employed.

The programme is one of the government’s key programmes aimed at providing poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed.

Raymond Mitchell, manager of the frail-care centre, which has patients attending the day hospital, said irrespective of the cost of the project, the local community should benefit financially.

“The community wants to be involved,” he said.

Mr Mitchell said to him this is a big project and that all role-players should be involved in Mitchell’s Plain projects.

“You drive through the area you see people working on the roads, and you ask yourself, where do our people fit in? Where is the local community economic empowerment?”

Mr Mitchell said the area had enough skilled artisans, labour, unemployed matriculants who do could afford to study further leave the area.

“We need to start somewhere to enable and empower locals to be involved. Open the process. Let it fair and square,” he said.

Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79 who is also the chairman of the frail care centre’s board and a board member on the CHC, asked: “How does the people of Mitchell’s Plain benefit?”

He asked whether the community liaison officer would be from the community and whether local labour be a part of the project.

“There should be serious thought on giving back to the community, so we can be economically empowered,” he said.

Ms Govender-Moller said it was a small project and that the appointed contractor might have his own staff.

“We will encourage it, but we cannot guarantee it,” she said.

Ms Govender-Moller did not give exact figures, but Jandre Bakker, spokesperson for the Department of Transport and Public Works, in reply to a Plainsman enquiry said the project would cost approximately R3 460 000, including VAT and associated professional fees.

“Construction is due to start in four to eight weeks,” he said.

Mr Bakker said the contractors normally procured material from the area closest to the site as this would be the most cost-effective method.

He said thus suppliers in the area would tend to benefit as a result of this project.

“Contractors also make use of local labour where possible. As this is a maintenance project under the threshold of R5 million, we cannot implement the full EPWP programme for this site,” he said.

Dawid Potgieter, architect from Rise Architects, speaking at the meeting said the construction site would be cordoned off, with only construction being allowed on the site and it would be boarded up, floor to ceiling, to minimise dust and sound.

Contractors and health centre staff would meet every fortnight to discuss problems and progress. A health and safety consultant would be on site before construction and would approve whether the site is secured – limiting dust and noise.

“The consultant would give us a scoring and reports as to whether we are complying with standards and whether alternate measures are needed. We have ensured that most noise and dust is directed towards the outside of the building,” Mr Potgieter said.

CHC facility manager Amanda Hansen said the renovation was of value to the community. She said the reception area would be centralised, with sufficient filing space and that the waiting period would be a lot shorter.

“We are open to engage anybody, and I want to thank everybody and the team working on this project,” she said.

Zethu Xapile, primary health care manager for Klipfontein/ Mitchell’s Plain substructure, welcomed the upgrade and said about 33 000 people used the facility monthly.

She said they had enough administrative staff to man the additional three windows in the revamped reception area and that staff would now be centralised to the records room.

“We are maximising existing floor space and trying to work smarter,” she said.