Massive road maintenance to create jobs

Cape Town - Government says it plans to create at least 120 000 jobs in 2011 through a massive road maintenance programme that will include maintenance of secondary roads and pothole patching projects across the country.

The announcement by Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele on Tuesday comes days after President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address last week, which called on government departments to come up with ways to assist in job creation.

During the address, Zuma called on all departments and state-owned enterprises to help government achieve its objective of creating five million jobs in the next 10 years.

On Tuesday, Ndebele said more than R22 billion has been set aside for the project over the medium term period, with R6.4 billion to spend this year.

He said 70 000 of the jobs were permanent and real work opportunities that will be sustainable over a long period. "You are maintaining a stretch of roads and so you have responsibility over it as the roads will always need maintenance. So it's quite sustainable," he told reporters during the Infrastructure Development Cluster briefing in Parliament.

A similar programme has been ongoing in KwaZulu-Natal, where hundreds of people, mainly women, had been employed since it was launched a few years ago.

Officials expressed confidence that the programme, dubbed "S'hamba sonke" (meaning 'We're going together'), will help the state address the declining road infrastructure and help create much needed jobs. Road engineers and superintendents from the department will be deployed all over the country's road network with the responsibility to address potholes.

"We will streamline the procurement process so that the necessary skills and inputs are sourced. A specially designed procurement regime [will] ensure provinces are ready to implement," Ndebele said.

Meanwhile, power utility Eskom is also expected to assist in the job creation drive through its youth programme that is aimed at assisting about 5 000 young people find employment through internships.

Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba said he was in talks with his counterparts in the Department of Education to assist in a skills drive initiative for the state-owned enterprises.

"We are in the process of discussing funding initiatives through SETAs to increase the skills base in the SOEs, and numbers are looking good in terms of engineers and artisans. We are quite confident we will be in a good position to make the necessary contribution in the development of skills in those areas," said Gigaba.

An estimated 100 000 people are also expected to be employed through direct and indirect jobs in the company's new build programme, which is expected by 2017.

Eskom has spent over R75 billion on its expansion programme since 2005, including R549 billion on the completion of Kusile Power Station by 2017.

Chris Bathembu
- BuaNews