The Mpumalanga Economic Growth Agency (MEGA) does not have the R1.2 billion (€76.6 mln) needed to complete the Mpumalanga International Fresh Produce Market. The agency has also postponed the completion date by three years. This is according to Desiree Ntshingila from MEGA. In February MEGA said the estimated completion date was the end of 2019, although now the cost of the market has exceeded the initial estimates that were announced when the project was started.
In 2013 the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs estimated that the market would cost R1 billion (€70 mln) over five years. In 2015 MEGA said R2 billion would be required to complete the project.
Five years ago, MEGA announced its plan of creating a market for the province’s fruits and vegetables. In the past months there have been numerous setbacks with subcontractors protesting due to delays in their payments. At some point the subcontractors were holding a site manager, Yeashiel Mabudeo, against his will at Mpumalanga Fresh Produce.
“We are still under phase one, until the market is completed and operational. Phase two may be done if and when the market needs to be extended but until then its now referred to as construction phase,” said Ntshingila.
She insists that the market is on schedule and everything is going well. Ntshingila said that a special allocation of R320.6 million (€20.5 mln) was reserved for the market. The site for the construction of the market buildings project was handed over to the main contractor on October 3.
According to lowvelder.co.za¸ MEGA also struggled to pay its creditors. It took the entity 175 days on average to settle its accounts and if this is not resolved this could lead to fruitless and wasteful expenditure due to interest and penalties.