This has been criticised by civil society organisations, who say the cash-strapped province should rather renovate the abandoned hospital and not waste money. The DA has promised to “closely monitor” the process.
Defending their decision on why they could not renovate the Ekurhuleni hospital, the department’s spokesperson Theo Nkonki said comparisons were conducted to establish the cost of demolishing the current facility and building a new district hospital on the same site, versus a complete refurbishment and conversion into a district hospital.
“The costs were so closely matched for either option. The cost estimate for renovation and refurbishment was R1.1bn, whereas the cost estimate for a new hospital is R1.3bn, as prepared in 2015,” he said, adding that building the hospital, which closed its doors in 1996, would alleviate pressure on Tembisa Hospital.
“The Tembisa Hospital was upgraded from a regional hospital to a tertiary level facility and is under severe pressure. There is currently no district level hospital near the Tembisa Hospital to support and accommodate level- 1 patients.” These are patients who need intensive and long-term care. Nkonki could not say when the demolition and the construction of the new hospital would start, sparking criticism of the department for its sluggishness.
Meanwhile, residents of Daveyton and the surrounding areas have been waiting for a new hospital for over a decade now. A new hospital was approved and budgeted as far back as 2006. No word as to what is causing the delay.
Tshwarelo Molaodi, chairperson of the activist organisation the Treatment Action Campaign in the region, said there were a lot of informal settlements and it was not fair that Daveyton – one of the oldest townships in the country – doesn’t have a hospital. “We are really suffering. This is worse for our grannies and children. We are normally referred to the Far East Rand and Boksburg hospitals, which are already overstretched,” she said.
A source with intimate knowledge of the Department of Infrastructure Development said poor planning and implementation had been identified as “key problem areas” for the department, and this often resulted in under- and overspending.
“For instance, the new Natalspruit and Jabulani hospitals were both five years overdue and cost more than double the original budget,” said the source. “There is a great need for a new hospital to serve the growing population in Daveyton, Etwatwa and Benoni, but chronic incompetence means that this will not happen soon.”
Speaking to the Health-e News earlier this year, Lesemang Matuka of the provincial health department said Daveyton Hospital’s project was at the “feasibility stage” and the business cases were being developed. “The business cases are due to be submitted for approval by the National Department of Health … and then the project can proceed to the design stage,” he said, but could not provide further details on the matter.
Meanwhile, in an effort to fast track delivery in his department, MEC Jacob Mamabolo has launched a technological intervention called Drone, which he said combines human and business intelligence to ensure projects are delivered in time, within cost and at the right quality.
An edited version of this story was published by Health24.