8000 return to work as WC public construction projects commences
Given the highly publicised difficulties experienced by significant parts of the construction industry during 2019 and the early months of 2020, the impact of the lockdown announced on 15 March was always going to have a serious impact on the financial circumstances of this sector and the many jobs dependent upon it. The knock-on effect into the overall economy of the Western Cape has been equally serious.
For this reason, the inclusion of certain aspects of construction and related services in the list of industries and activities permitted under Alert Level 4 as gazetted on 29 April provided strict health protocols are followed is to be welcomed. This provision allows for:
- Civil engineering for public works projects
- Public works civil engineering and construction works
- Road and bridge projects, including local road repairs
- Critical maintenance and repairs.
In addition steel, cement, other construction material and hardware, can scale up in phases to 50% employment subject to strict health protocols.
The Department of Transport and Public Works is a critical role-player in relation to all four of these areas of construction and construction related activities as they cut across projects in each of the following spheres of service delivery:
- Education: Nearly 200 projects will re-commence, including new and replacement schools, upgrades and maintenance. The value of these projects is roughly R1.5 billion and the work will involve 4500 people going back to work.
- Health: Over 40 projects will recommence, including capital and maintenance. The value of these projects is roughly R250 million and the work will involve nearly 800 people going back to work.
- General Infrastructure: Just over 40 projects will recommence, including capital, modernisation and maintenance. The value of these projects is roughly R90 million and the work will involve just more than 600 people going back to work.
- Roads: 17 projects will recommence with a value of R1.2 billion to completion. To this can be added routine road maintenance contracts of R158million a year. 2 further contracts are due to be awarded with a value of R370 million. These various projects will produce over 2500 work opportunities.
This is indeed good news in the midst of very trying circumstances for the industry and for many of our citizens whose lives have been placed on hold.
In all, the currently allowed construction and related activities will provide a total injection into the industry of nearly R3.5 billion and bring more than 8000 people back into paid employment. The importance of this boost for the economy of the Province and for the lives of our residents cannot be overstated.
My Department has worked hard behind the scenes in the run up to the announcement of what is allowed under Alert Level 4 in order to ensure that these projects can recommence as soon as possible. This includes the issuing of a letter to all contractors requesting them to resume permitted work.
This letter brings clearly to their attention the crucial aspects of the new regulatory framework under which the work must be performed including the steps to be taken to ensure the health and safety of all workers. These conditions are an essential prerequisite for the work to be recommenced.
DTPW officials will be available to these contractors to advise and to assist wherever possible.
I wish to record my thanks to the contractors, their employees and other workers for their understanding of the circumstances which necessitated the suspension of these important projects and for their hard work within the hygiene conditions which will apply.