Why do Riemvasmaak police station’s doors remain closed?

Henry

The DA wants to know from police minister Bheki Cele why the Riemvasmaak police station in the Northern Cape is still not in operation after almost a year.

According to local media reports, this station has been open since May 8 last year. Yet DA members faced a dead man’s door when they paid an overview visit to the police station, says Dr. Isak Fritz, the party’s premier candidate for the Northern Cape.

“We have also received information that although the station is ‘open’, no police officers have yet been placed at this station.”

Fritz has already written to Cele to get clarification on why this station’s doors are closed and what is causing the ongoing delays.

“It is incomprehensible and only creates more questions about what can only be described as a white elephant,” said Fritz.

In response to parliamentary questions about the Riemvasmaak police station, Cele said that the deed for the station had already been obtained in 2016. Annual reports further indicate that a tender of more than R42 million was already awarded to a company in 2018 and that building work would be completed according to planning by April 2021.

However, the police said at the time that an extension of the deadline was granted due to the Covid-19 pandemic, community unrest and disputes, interference from local business forums and problems related to the contractor’s own inability to hire skilled laborers and the getting hold of the right building materials.

“However, we cannot accept that the station – almost ten years after the land was purchased to build it – has still not added any value to the Riemvasmaak community. This community has to travel almost 80 km to get to the nearest police station.

“Police officers from the Kakamas Police Station also have to travel long distances on bad roads to respond to crime incidents.”

Fritz wants to know from Cele why the station is still not open, and whether the project has been completed within the approved budget and time.

“We also want to know if any irregularities regarding the contract have surfaced over the past years. Given the police’s apparent inability to operate this rural station, we also want to know why such an enormous station was built in a low-crime area where the need for other services, such as a school, is much greater.”