Mar 2011

Repairing flood damage benefits communities and helps create jobs

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi

Expanded Public Works Programme

Job creation is receiving a boost with government injecting an amount of R220 million into the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP). The aim is to create almost 16 000 job opportunities. Temporary jobs include repairing of flood damage to infrastructure.

The job creation drive will not only benefit unemployed people, but will also help communities where the recent floods have caused damage to infrastructure like roads and bridges. It will see potholes being repaired and new low-water bridges being built to replace those that were washed away during the floods


More than 14 000 people, mainly youths, will be employed over a period of four months to repair potholes in different parts of the country.

The projects, chosen in cooperation with the nine provincial public works departments, will be additional to the existing EPWP projects that are already being carried out by the Department of Public Works.

Building bridges

The recent floods have made some areas in the country inaccessible because of the bad state of the roads and the damage to many bridges. The damage to low-lying bridges has made it difficult for communities in some rural areas to go about their daily lives. This includes children having difficulty getting to school and people being unable to reach clinics and hospitals.

Government has promised to make sure that children are able to go to school. The Public Works Department has therefore decided to enter into a partnership with the South African National Defence Force's Engineering Section to build 40 bridges in the four provinces hardest hit by the floods. These are the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, North West and Limpopo.

The bridges will replace those that were washed away during the floods.

The bridge-building project is set to cost R30 million. This includes employing local people to assist during the construction of the bridges.

Garden maintenance

In addition, more than 2 000 youths will be employed and trained for a period of between 18 and 22 months to do garden and maintenance services at four land ports of entry. These ports include the Golela border post between South Africa and Swaziland and the Lebombo border post between South Africa and Mozambique.

The youths will be provided with appropriate clothing such as overalls and gumboots, as well as the necessary tools.

Own businesses

One of the aims of the project is that some of the youths who will complete training in garden maintenance and services will be able to start their own small gardening businesses in their own communities, said Mandla Mabuza, Deputy-Director General for Special Projects at
the Public Works Department.

"Starting their own businesses, could see them being hired to do garden services and maintenance at residential and commercial gardens thus helping them to put bread on the table for their families," Mabuza said.

Pothole repairs

R150 million will be used to repair potholes. Half of this amount will go towards paying the people who do the work, while the other half will be spent on equipment needed to carry out the task.

The pothole repairing project will see more than 200 youths at each of South Africa's 46 District Municipalities being employed over a period of four months. In repairing potholes, the Department of Public Works said it would ask the services of its agency Agre'ment to ensure that the potholes are permanently fixed.

Agre'ment works with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on developing products to repair potholes permanently.

New Growth Path

Money allocated towards the different projects could increase if the provinces are able to make a contribution.

Some provinces have undertaken to meet or match government's contribution rand for rand. This could see many more people being employed.

The 16 000 jobs would also go a long way towards meeting government's New Growth Path which has set a goal of creating more than 500 000 jobs per year.

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