Some companies with no experience or expertise in COVID-19 sanitation earned millions for just hiring subcontractors to do their work for the Gauteng government’s R431m classroom sanitation programme. In one case, two companies that served as middlemen between the government and a subcontracted cleaning firm made a profit of about 90%. The companies with the contracts earned R100/m² to clean schools, but paid the subcontractor about a 10th of that, says a Sunday Times report.
An unnamed subcontractor reportedly told the paper he was “shocked”. “They did so many things for us that were not part of the contract, but now that you’ve told me that they got paid so much it makes sense. They could have done more.”
The project has raised political heat on Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi and the province’s Premier, David Makhura. Last year, Gauteng’s personal protection equipment scandal cost Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku his job when the Special Investigating Unit highlighted serious irregularities.
Lesufi said last week that no-one close to him benefited from the project, and that he was unaware of what it had cost.
A report by the department’s infrastructure management directorate, made public by the Daily Maverick, shows it paid R100/m² for cleaning and disinfecting 3,044 schools between June and August. The rate was between R260,000 and R290,000 for a school and R380 000 for a district office.
However, the vast spending was unnecessary. On 10 June last year, the National Department of Health said on the reopening of schools after the lockdown that “there is no need to deep clean or implement any other form of cleaning in areas that were unoccupied for more than seven days”.
Full Sunday Times report (Restricted access)