The total cost of the refurbished Ashanti Hospital in the far West Rand has ballooned to R733m, including the building cost of R588,5m and medical equipment bought for R144,4m.
This was revealed in the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report on governmentʼs COVID-19 spending that was released last week (25 January).
According to the SIU, six of the contractors were irregularly appointed by the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development without a contract amount, no bill of quantities, and no scope of work.
Work on the hospital started in April 2020 before the costing and pricing was approved. Although the refurbishment budget was supposed to be R50m, it mysteriously grew to more than R500m.
The hospital was made available by the AngloGold Ashanti mining company, but money was spent on it before a legal transfer of the property to the Gauteng provincial government.
There were supposed to be 175 high-care beds for COVID-19 patients, but the hospital was only partly opened in May last year and has treated only eight seriously ill COVID patients.
Work on this hospital is still not completely finished and the SIU is recommending that all payments for the refurbishment be stopped.
In my view, further spending on staff and equipment should be halted as well, as it was a monumental error to spend so much money on a hospital so far from major population centres.
More lives can be saved by spending money to assist existing hospitals to cope with the flood of COVID patients.
The SIU has done an excellent job in exposing massive corruption with this project, and there needs to be political accountability as well as criminal charges against all those implicated in this vast waste of money.
Issued by Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health