Cape Town – The Covid-19 pandemic was not all bad news for everyone in the province, with 11 314 jobs created through the expanded public works programme (EPWP), according to a senior official in the provincial Department of Transport and Public Works.
Richard Petersen, chief director of the EPWP, told a briefing of the standing committee on transport and public works that the pandemic also created an opportunity to implement 354 Covid-19-related projects.
“Stakeholders re-prioritised funding to roll out Covid-19 advocacy and sanitisation projects and unemployed participants were able to claim from the UIF-Ters facility,” said Petersen.
“However, the pandemic also delayed the implementation and reporting of a number of EPWP projects and forced us to have only limited contact with shareholders due to offices being closed.”
Committee member Brett Herron wanted to know what role the department plays in ensuring fairness in the allocation of EPWP opportunities, repeating claims he made in the legislature that such opportunities are being politicised in the Saldanha Municipality ahead of the by-elections in November.
Petersen said: “We can’t police it as we are not in a position to, but what we have done is to carry out advocacy in municipalities around the issue of transparency. My view is that the policing of such matters should happen in the implementing bodies.”
The committee was also briefed on the status of the George-integrated public transport network, requirements for the implementation of further phases and the major challenges it faces.
Head of operations Deidre Ribbonaar said: “We rolled out phases 1 to 3 in the space of a year, but the roll-out of phase 4B took another three years as a result of budget cuts and the illegal operations that plague the minibus taxi industry.”
Committee member Lulama Mvimbi said: “The introduction of the ‘Go George’ project should not be a way to stifle competition or push the taxi industry out of business. There should be maximum competition as that is what a capitalist economy is based on.”