The Newcastle Provincial Hospital witnessed a flurry of activity on Tuesday, August 15, 2023, as Sipho Nkosi, the MEC for KwaZulu-Natal Public Works and Human Settlements, undertook an extensive onsite inspection of the ongoing renovations within the medical facility.
In the company of a delegation, MEC Nkosi engaged in thorough discussions with project contractors, aiming to gain an in depth understanding of the status and progress of the multifaceted construction initiatives.
These renovations, segmented into distinct packages, are strategically designed to bolster the hospital’s infrastructure and operational capabilities.
- Package C: To replace the perimeter fencing, lighting, damaged roofing, upgrade the waste storage area, and tiling of staff accommodation.
- Package D: Security upgrades, fire detection and prevention, boiler conversion to head pump, and new control room.
- Package E: The upgrade and maintenance of bulk sewer, bulk water, and electrical compliance.
- HVAC to the four theatres at the hospital. This entails the air conditioning systems as per the Department of Health’s requirements and standards.
During these discussions, MEC Nkosi was informed of the successful completion of Package C. The initial contract award for this project amounted to R24,803,298.00. However, a revised contract sum of R26,185,788.14 was later agreed upon. While the anticipated project timeline was 18 months, commencing on 16 August 2021, and concluding on 15 February 2023, the project ultimately reached completion on 24 May 2023.
Package D faced initial setbacks due to financial constraints and material delivery delays. However, marked progress has been observed over recent months, especially with the impending installation of CCTV and access control components.
The execution of Package E encountered its share of challenges, including groundwater seepage and negotiations with business forums. These negotiations were influenced by disturbances stemming from a newly formed forum demanding work from the contractor. As a response, the contractor initiated discussions with identified subcontractors in accordance with the tender document’s specifications.
Dr Jabu Duze, the Acting CEO of the Newcastle Provincial Hospital, underscored the hospital’s historical evolution. Initially established as a modest cottage, the facility has expanded to accommodate 273 beds.
As a regional hospital for the Amajuba District, Dr Duze emphasised that while the ongoing renovations were pivotal, they did present challenges to seamless service delivery, particularly within the hospital’s crucial operating theatres.
Dr Duze noted, “The hospital delivers almost 800 babies a month, and over 30% are through cesarean sections.”
With this in mind, delays in the air conditioning system upgrades were leading to backlogs and affecting the hospital’s delivery of care.
Expressing his discontent with the delays faced, MEC Nkosi specifically highlighted the disruption caused by business forums demanding work. He acknowledged the contractors for their resilience in overcoming challenges and striving to regain lost ground.
“The contractors understand the law in regards to the subcontractors who had to be employed, which the business forums did not. The contractors resolved the issue and educated the business forums,” he said.
However, he noted that the SAPS should monitor forums that intended to bring any work to a halt and ensure the perpetrators are punished if they are determined to wreak havoc.
As preparations accelerate for the imminent National Health Insurance initiative, the Newcastle Provincial Hospital’s ongoing renovations are poised to significantly elevate its infrastructure and service quality. With stakeholders unwaveringly committed to the projects’ execution, the hospital is poised to provide enhanced services to its dedicated staff and the community it serves.
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