The Public Works Department on Tuesday announced that it would roll-out three new projects, which would assist its job creation drive across the country’s provinces.
Speaking after a meeting between the Minister and Public Works MECs from all nine provinces, known as MinMEC, newly appointed Minister Gwen Mahlangu-Nkabinde said that R210-million had been budgeted for these specific programmes.
She noted that in light of the heavy rains and flooding across the country, the department deemed it fit to approve the construction of about 30 new low-cost bridges and to start with a bigger project focusing on filling the potholes on the country’s roads.
The construction of low-cost bridges would see the department partnering with the Department of Defence, to build the new bridges in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and the North West provinces.
“It is a tragedy that more than 300 children in the Chris Hani municipality have to cross a river every day just to get to school. This means that in the absence of a bridge and with all the heavy rains recently experienced, these children were unable to get to school,” said Mahlangu-Nkabinde.
Acting director-general Sam Vukela said that R30-million had been allocated to the project, which would focus on employing and training young people in the specific areas.
Further, the department allocated R150-million towards fixing South Africa’s pothole epidemic. Of this, 50% of the budget would go towards labour, which meant the creation of about 14 000 short-term jobs.
Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu said that the project would kick off in the Sandton area in Gauteng and added that the Minister and other officials would personally fill the first potholes at the launch of the project in March.
Potholes are estimated – in a study by the South African Road Federation – to cost the economy R50-billion annually in vehicle repairs and injuries.
Working with the Department of Transport and other relevant stakeholders, Public Works would implement best practices and relevant technology sampled from other parts of the world with similar challenges to fill the potholes and maintain the roads.
Lastly, Vukela said that a programme would be launched to create additional jobs on the borders of South Africa. The project would see youths being trained for the maintenance, cleaning and gardening needed at four ports of entry into the country.
“We have initially allocated R30-million towards this project, that would see youths working for three days at the border and then receiving training for another two days during a week. This would not only provide them with some skills, but would also generate the needed revenue to sustain themselves without government assistance.”
Bogopane-Zulu noted that these projects were over and above the other projects that were being undertaken by the department towards its goal of creating 600 000-plus jobs during the 2010/11 year, and in line with government’s New Growth Path that called for job creation in a country suffering with a 25% unemployment rate.
Mahlangu-Nkabinde emphasised that she and her department would work “double-time” to lift the country’s people out of poverty. “I stand behind this department’s motto of, South Africa works, because of Public Works,” she added.
Mahlangu-Nkabinde replaced Geoff Doidge in President Jacob Zuma's Cabinet reshuffle last year.