Construction of Soweto’s second state hospital, Jabulani, is back on track after being stalled for more than two years.
This is welcome news for South Africa’s biggest township, whose existing healthcare system is under heavy pressure.
The leading firm at the time, Ilima, set out to continue on its own without its three initial partners, but the project was “still far from completion” when its contract expired in May 2008.
Although Ilima was granted a second contract in August 2008, the agreement was terminated a month later after “poor performance”, the department said.
Illima and the provincial department are now locked in a court battle over funding. “We will be recovering some of our money from the company for the work it didn’t do,” said MEC for infrastructure development, Faith Mazibuko, at media briefing at the hospital construction site on 19 August 2010.
A new contractor, Maziya General Services, has recently taken over the project and the government is happy with its progress.
The completion deadline has been set for December 2011, and the department is confident there will be no more delays.
“Maziya is promising,” Mazibuko said. “The contractor is committed. They are working very hard.”
The 2009 financial crunch also stalled the project, said Mazibuko. “The country and indeed the province experienced one of the worst economic meltdowns in recent memory. This led to a lack of funding for this project ...”
Relieving pressure at Baragwanath
R536-million (US$73-million) is being spent on the three-storey Jabulani Hospital, named after the section of Soweto it’s being built in. It will be a state-of-the-art public facility with 300 beds and well-equipped to address healthcare needs in the highly populated area.
Soweto, South Africa’s most famous township, is in south-west Johannesburg and home to between 2- and 3-million people. Most of its residents cannot afford private healthcare.
It’s hoped the new facility will ease the bottleneck at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital – the only existing government hospital in Soweto. “It will assist us in alleviating the pressure at Baragwanath,” Mazibuko said.
Baragwanath is the biggest hospital in the southern hemisphere. It’s situated in the section of Diepkloof, but has to accommodate patients from the township’s almost 30 districts.
“Everyone believes that when they go to Baragwanath they get healed. You even find people travelling from Zola section,” Mazibuko said. “We want to alleviate that pressure so that Baragwanath remains an academic hospital.”
Jabulani, also referred to as the Zola Gateway Hospital, is now 42% complete, according to Mazibuko. Supporting buildings, like the 32-body-capacity mortuary and the kitchen, are also almost complete.
Clinic near the hospital
Jabulani Hospital is connected to the Zola Gateway Clinic, whose name is likely to be changed as there’s an existing Zola Clinic.
Zola Gateway Clinic, which visibly impressed journalists at the briefing, was completed in 2009. But the R13-million ($1.8-million) facility is yet to be used, as the provincial Department of Health has ordered minor structural changes and some additions.
These involve increasing the number of consultation rooms, which currently stand at 11, and getting more equipment. Most of the furniture, including patient beds, has been moved in and is ready for use.
But it won’t be long until the clinic opens: “We’re hoping the Department of Health will take occupation soon,” Mazibuko said.