15 July 2018


Road projects yield multi-pronged benefits to communities

by: Elvis Mosiwa   date: 22 july 2018

Road projects are essential, not only for developing and improving the road network infrastructure or create employment for the duration of the project, but they also leave a long lasting economic legacy.

The Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) was created and implemented by government to skill local young people through projects such as these. The EPWP uses government funded infrastructure projects to increase labour intensity. 
According to a research conducted by Wits School of Governance in 2016, the infrastructure sector utilizes labour intensive methods where it is economically and technically feasible to create work opportunities without compromising the end product. 

The study further emphasized that local communities also benefit as they receive employment and provided with opportunities for skills development. 
Director of Project Implementation in the Department of Public Works and Roads, Sifiso Diko, said the agreement between the department and contractors state clearly that unskilled beneficiaries should be from the local community. It adds that even for employment of skilled labour, local communities must be given first preference.

Diko said the department used full-time equivalent (FTE) target, which was used to monitor employment within the projects.

“On the projects value of more than R30 million, 30% should be allocated to sub-contractors from the local community. This is so to develop them and assist them to improve their Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading. For the 2018/19 financial year, the department plans to train small, micro and medium enterprises (SMMEs) on a 36-month programme,” said Diko. 

He said the department had, for every road project, allocated budget for EPWP to ensure that local development takes place.
“This will leave locals with significant skills that will be useful to them in a long term, even after the project is completed,” said Diko. 

Meanwhile, the department convened a meeting with consultants working in some of its roads projects currently underway. The meeting was reflected on how ongoing projects were benefiting the local people. It further outlined progress and challenges on current road projects. A common challenge identified by most contractors was that of community unrests, which they said were hindering progress and interfering with projects’ time frames, resulting in delays.

These projects are not only aimed at improving infrastructure and creating employment, but assisting in fostering viable economic environment as well as uplifting social economic status of local residents by providing them with training and skills necessary to fight poverty. The idea is to assist communities to fend for themselves even beyond the road project by utilizing skills acquired during the project.