Expanded Public Works Programmes briefings by Department of Public Works

NCOP Public Services

13 June 2007
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

13 June 2007

Mr R J Tau (ANC: Northern Cape)

Implementing the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) in Building Maintenance using the National Youth Services Model
Expanded Public Works Programme – current status and recommendations for the future
Expanded Public Works Programme- Vuk’uphile Contractor Learner ship Programme
Vuk’kuphile Case Study presentation

Audio Recording of the Meeting Part1 and Part2

The Department of Public Works briefed the Committee on different aspects of the Expanded Public Works programmes. The first presentation addressed the current status and targets for job creation per province over the next five years by the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), provincial governments and municipalities. The key sectors discussed were infrastructure, environmental, economic and the social sectors. The second briefing dealt with the implementation and expansion of the Programme by the National Youth Service Model, which aimed to create 10 000 posts in the Built Environment, targeting those between 18 and 35. Emphasis was placed on the recruitment strategies, programme management, allowances for participants and the cost implications. The third briefing concentrated on a description of the Vuk’uphile Contractor Learner ship Programme, in Mpumalanga. This was an infrastructural construction programme focusing on the creation of roads in three districts within Mpumalanga. The presentation covered the aspects of road building and maintenance, as well as issues of recruitment and training of workers. The problems and successes of the Vuk’uphile learnership programme were also addressed.

Members raised questions on the length of the posts created, the recruitment and advertising strategies, the equipment and materials used in the Vuk’uphile programme, skills retention, and creating a database of those trained. Further questions addressed the poor performance of the infrastructure sector, the inconsistency of data, whether there was any power to enforce allocation of funding to the programmes, the reporting back, and the challenge of diverse education of applicants. .

Expanded Public Works Programmes(EPWP) : Briefings by members of the Department of Public Works  (DPW)
Mr Stanley Henderson, Chief Director: Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, DPW, briefed the Committee on the targets for job creation per province over the next five years by provincial governments and municipalities. He then discussed the progress by provincial governments in four key sectors over the last five years. The key sectors discussed were infrastructure, environmental, economic and the social sectors. He noted that information and data on municipal progress was not available for this meeting as it was still being updated. Mr Henderson then discussed the problems the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) was experiencing with regard to the quality, accuracy and urgency of the data the Department was receiving from municipalities and provincial governments. Mr Henderson stated however that the Department was able to reach some conclusions. The environmental sector was ahead of targets for the programme, the economic sector was on target, the infrastructural sector was slightly behind, and the social sector was far behind the planned progress. Mr Henderson then went on to highlight the key challenges the EPWP was facing. He mentioned that the three spheres of government administratively impeded on efficient service delivery across the four sectors. He also asserted that contribution from municipalities was lacking, and that the problems were compounded by training issues.

Mr Maikel R Lieuw-Kie-Song, Chief Director: Labour Intensive Works, DPW, stated that he would be presenting on the National Youth Service (NYS) model in the Built Environment. Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song clarified that the NYS model consisted of three different aspects; community service, Structured Learning and Individual Development, and exit opportunities (which would comprise self or formal employment and further learning). The key objective of the NYS model was the creation of 10 000 posts in the Built Environment, targeting the group between 18 and 35 years of age. They would develop skills, understanding and aspirations for working in the built environment, and on exit it was hoped that 10% could be recruited back into DPW, and the others would be suitable for self or formal employment. The provincial commitments were tabled. It was indicated that the recruitment strategy would be decentralised and local, and would tap into other databases. The programme management, allowances for participants of the NYS project, as well as the cost implications were tabled and discussed. The training of the participants and “understanding the Built Environment” were also discussed.

Ms Swazi Maja, Director: National Co-ordinator for Gauteng and Mpumalanga, DPW, presented the case study on the progress of the Vuk’uphile project, which had been undertaken in conjunction with the Department of Transport. There were presently 1 500 individuals on this project, with the possibility of doubling this number. They were placed within 500 learner contracting companies. The objectives were to increase capacity in the labour intensive construction sector to support EPWPs. The contractors would emerge from the programmes with recognised qualifications, a project and financial track record, a relationship with a bank and a ranking of the Construction Industry Development Board. The contracting business should be able to sustain itself in the open market.

Ms Maja briefed the committee on the actual process of road building and renovating. She then discussed the current challenges to the Vuk’uphile program in Mpumalanga, EPWP target highlights and the cumulative employment within the province (see presentation) She also discussed training strategies.

Rev P Moatshe (ANC: North West) asked whether the posts created by the EPWP were permanent. He also asked about the recruitment and advertisement strategies adopted by EPWP and NYS.

Mr Henderson explained that the majority of Infrastructural projects were short term in nature, and that dictated the period for which DPW could employ people. He mentioned that the other three sectors had longer employment periods.

With regard to recruitment, Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song explained that this was strictly regional and occurred in and around the areas where the project was to take place to ensure that locals were used and benefited. This was done partially through local advertising.

Rev P Moatshe asked why the Vuk’uphile project did not use paving (bricks) rather than tar (asphalt). He also asked what happened to the equipment once a project was completed.

Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song explained that ABSA Bank was a part-financier of the project and that the plan was to have equipment paid off by the revenue collected by the EPWP. Equipment was to be paid off over a period of two years.

Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song also explained the preference of tar (asphalt) over paving (bricks) as the fact that tar was cheaper to instal, although it did require maintenance, and could handle heavier loads.

Ms H Matlanyane (ANC: Limpopo) believed that Vuk’uphile and other similar projects were not the solution to unemployment as they created one-off and temporary employment. She raised further concerns about exploitation of those who were employed by projects like Vuk’uphile.

Ms Matlanyane raised questions around skills retention and how to retrieve all the personnel that had been educated or provided with skills from these various projects.

Mr Henderson said that EPWP had recognised that there were a vast number of people who had limited skills and their objective was to compound, nurture and develop these skills. He also stressed that this was all project-dependant. He noted that the EPWP had started developing a web based system to track workers who had been through or worked on NYS and EPWP projects.

The Chairperson voiced his major concerns over were the scaling down of job opportunities being created by the EPWP and the poor performance of the infrastructure sector.

Mr Henderson stated that the goals and targets of each sector varied greatly. Some targets were plainly  easy and simple whereas other targets were unrealistic and purely unattainable. The accuracy of some data received from municipalities, local and provincial government was constantly inconsistent.

The Chairperson queried whether the Department of Public Works had the binding power to enforce allocations of funds to the EPWP from provincial governments and municipalities.

Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song reiterated that a major reason for the underperformance of the infrastructure sector was the non-binding decisions of local and provincial government and their respective municipalities. Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song explained that the Auditor General and the Department of Local Government both had the power to allocate funds to certain projects (like EPWP) and these monetary allocations did have binding conditions. Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song also stated that local and provincial government and their respective municipalities were slow to report back, if they did so at all.

Mr Lieuw-Kie-Song  concluded by stating that the key challenge was the diversity of the applicants’ education and how to provide the most widely-applicable training to a range of applicants, some with matric and some with no formal education whatsoever. A large proportion of applicants also fell between these two extremes.

The Chairperson then raised concerns around salary discrepancies between different employees, whether  local or provincial government or their respective municipalities. Furthermore, the lack of communication over ownership, or jurisdiction of projects needed major clarification.

The meeting was adjourned.


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