Job creation efforts in the provinces: National & Provincial Departments of Transport briefings

NCOP Public Services

01 August 2011
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (Mpumalanga, ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department intended to update the road asset management systems on all roads by 2014, increase the quality of road conditions, and ensure job creation and contractor development. The pillars of the road maintenance programme involved increasing investment in maintenance of key arterial routes, to support local economies, more use of cost-efficient and labour intensive methods, the “Know Your Network” programme that would deploy local resources, and safe roads. The provincial allocations were set out, but the NDOT indicated that it did not have figures for job creation from some of the provinces (who later disputed this). The monitoring structures and processes for the S’hamba Sonke programme, and the centralised call centre were described. The Road Authorities Database was being updated and a Programme Management Unit was being rolled out both nationally and provincially. There were challenges in delivery of road infrastructure, costing models, monopolies and monitoring. Committee Members stressed that it was important to have full details to assist the Committee in its oversight, and asked whether the NDOT had sufficient powers of enforcement, and sufficient emphasis on quality, and also expressed concerns about the costing.

The KwaZulu (KZN) Natal Provincial Department of Transport gave a presentation that was well-received by Members, although they stressed that they would be conducting oversight. KZN had established a monitoring and evaluation unit, was pioneering various programmes that focused directly on job creation and poverty eradication, and operated through various projects. One programme, in particular, was targeting women-headed households and permanent contracts for routine maintenance were allocated to the poorest of the poor. There was also an Emerging Contractor Development Programme, offering targeting training and mentoring support. Specific pothole interventions were described. The Monitoring and Evaluation Unit insisted on business plans and received monthly progress reports and did site inspections.

The Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Public Works, Road and Transport said it had prioritised the coal haulage route, the rural access route and the general maintenance of existing infrastructure. It stressed that its figures were indeed available, but noted that there was some disparity in figures because many jobs were absorbed in a single programme. Factors to be taken into account on costing included topography and existing road structures, and potholes needed structural, not cosmetic, repair. Members requested progress reports on the status of potholes, the schedule of work, and the numbers of jobs for women and the disabled. They also requested feedback on roads, including one where there was disputed ownership

The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works, Eastern Cape, also stressed that the data on job creation had been submitted, and there was money put aside for emerging contractor development. The Province had quite an advanced Road Asset Management System and was able to prioritise the work, but there were problems of unsurfaced and unstable roads, huge backlogs, partially attributed to underfunding in the past, flood damage and deep potholes. It had set up an emerging contractor programme and allocated funding specifically to areas. This Department projected creation of 3 562 jobs per year over the next three years. This department claimed to be one of the top three in job creation, although there was less than adequate participation by municipalities, and grossly inadequate budgets. The Department was trying to “hold things together” until the promised funding materialised in 2014.

The Limpopo Provincial Department of Roads and Transport also stressed that its figures were available, and said that 4 432 full time equivalent jobs had been created. This Department sought to standardise the kilometer costs, tried to attend to potholes within 48 hours, but also cited funding limitations that only allowed maintenance of 150 kilometres of road per year. There was a need to motivate for additional support and alternative funding sources. There were 102 bridges in the province needing urgent attention, which would require R220 million.

The Western Cape Provincial Department of Transport could not understand why the figures for the Western Cape were not included in the NDOT presentation given by the Director-General of the National Department of Transport. 33% of pothole repairs were done by district municipalities, 19% by Provincial Roads Unit and 48% by routine maintenance contractors. More than 1 500 people were employed full time.

Members were generally concerned about apparent inconsistencies between the presentations of the NDOT and Provincial Departments, in relation to numbers of jobs, availability of figures, and existence of the Programme Management Unit. The Departments were therefore asked to standardize their reporting format and to produce corrected figures.

Meeting report

Monitoring of job creation in the provinces
Chairperson’s opening comments

The Chairperson indicated that there were two key questions that needed to be addressed by the Departments who were to make presentations on job creation. The first was whether there was a monitoring system, both nationally and provincially, to check outputs towards Outcome 4, relating to job creation. The second was whether the pothole reparation programme enabled those employed to learn anything to assist them in future employment.

National Department of Transport (NDOT) briefing
Mr George Mahlalela, Director-General, National Department of Transport, outlined the monitoring structures and processes that would ensure that the pothole reparation project being run by the Department of Transport (DOT or the Department) across the nine provinces had the necessary delivery impact. He noted that a commitment towards job creation had been made by the President in his State of the Nation Address. In addition the Minister of Transport, in his budget speech, had made a commitment to roll out the Zibambele Road Maintenance Programme nationally. Furthermore, transport agencies were also required to heed the call for job creation.

Mr Mahlalela highlighted the key outputs, such as updating the road asset management systems on all roads by 2014, increasing the percentage of road conditions from very poor and poor to at least fair, and lastly ensuring job creation and contractor development.

He then outlined the key pillars of the road maintenance programmes. The Department would increase investment in the maintenance of key arterial routes to support the rural economy. There was an increased focus on using cost efficient and intensive labour methods of road construction and maintenance. The “Know your Network” programme would focus attention on deployment of local resources to support the road network asset management. The Department intended to improve access to schools and clinics, and to deliver a safe road environment.

Mr Mahlalela gave a breakdown of the provincial roads maintenance grant allocations to provinces. The Eastern Cape was allocated R 1 034 billion, R 1 215 billion and R 1 312 billion for the years 2011/12, 2012/13/ and 2013/14 respectively. KwaZulu-Natal was allocated R 1 236 billion, R1 454 billion and R 1 569 billion for the same years respectively. The Western Cape was allocated R 411 million, R 483 million and R 521 million for the same period.  The total money that had been allocated for 2011 to 2014 was R 22 billion. The targets for job creation per province were then given. The Eastern Cape was supposed to create 32 965 jobs, of which 20 736 should be full-time equivalent jobs. KwaZulu-Natal was expected to create 57 000 jobs, of which 22 278 should be full-time equivalent jobs.  The Western Cape Province was expected to create 1 375 jobs, of which 597 should be full time.

The presentation also addressed the monitoring structures and processes for the S'hamba Sonke programme. Business plan guidelines were issued to provinces in order to address the key pillars of the S'hamha Sonke programme. There would be an assessment of provincial business plans to verify whether S'hamba Sonke requirements were being addressed. In addition, standard reporting formats had been issued to provinces in order to track progress.

There was also work in progress on setting up and operating a National or Centralised Call Centre to report potholes. The Department was also in the process of finalising mechanisms to update the Road Authorities Database, so that complaints could be redirecting to the correct Road Authority and there could be follow-up and report-back to the callers. The Department was also finalising and rolling out the Programme Management Unit, both nationally and provincially. It was also processing its support appointment for the Programme Management Unit.  However, there were funding constraints from National Treasury for the Programme Management Unit.

Mr Mahlalela provided a progress overview. The amount spent in the Eastern Cape to date was R193 million, but no figures could be given for the jobs that had been created, whether full-time, jobs for women or youth. KwaZulu-Natal had spent R168 million, and had created 39 574 jobs, of which 5 124 were full time equivalent. In addition 30 400 jobs had been created for women and 9 700 jobs had been created for the youth. No figures were given for money spent to date in Gauteng Province and Mpumalanga Province, nor for Western Cape and North West province.

The challenges that the Department faced were outlined. These included challenges in road infrastructure delivery, and the Department had to try to put in place effective costing models for similar infrastructure. There was a problem of monopolisation within the industry, which the Department must address by developing effective industry understanding and monitoring.

The Chairperson suggested that the provinces should give further input on monitoring.

Mr R Tau (ANC, Northern Cape) commented that there was a need to know where there was focused attention on the deployment of local resources to support the road network asset management, so that the Committee could do oversight. It would also be interesting to see what provinces had done in establishing and supporting job contractors. He asked whether contractors had really benefited and what was it that they were really doing. In addition he asked why the Western Cape had been allocated R411 million, and why the other provinces appeared to be achieving what the Western Cape could not. He complained that it was unacceptable that the Department could not provide figures for jobs that had been created and money that had been spent in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, North West and Mpumalanga provinces.

Mr H Groenewald (DA, North West) asked whether there was a cut-off date for the business plans and, if so, why no figures were given in the presentation. He emphasised that the money had come from taxpayers. He had the impression that the Director-General and the Department were not doing their work in provinces.

Mr Z Mlenzana (COPE, Eastern Cape) noted that the Director-General had reported that all funding had been disbursed to provinces. He asked whether the Department had powers to enforce, and whether the National Department could dictate what provinces did. He stressed that the situation should not be allowed to arise where money was spent but there was no proper accounting for it. It was more likely that the provinces were not ready with the figures than that they were actually unable to account for the money that they had spent.

Mr O De Beer (COPE, Western Cape) pointed out that this report was in direct contrast with what was being experienced on the ground in different provinces. He asked whether the pothole programme had been put in place in all nine provinces, pointing out that some areas of Cape Town had a lot of potholes. He emphasised that quality work was needed.

Ms M Themba (ANC, Mpumalanga) suggested that delegates from the provinces should add figures where the Director-General had not done so, emphasizing that the Committee needed this figures in order to do proper oversight. She noted that nothing had been said about employing people with disabilities. She stressed that the problem of costing was supposed to have been solved a long time ago.

The Chairperson asked whether R 22 billion was sufficient for grant allocations to all nine provinces, or whether more funding would be disbursed. In addition, he asked how emerging businesses were benefiting, and what these businesses were required to produce in order for them to benefit.

The Chairperson also expressed his concerns about costing. He asked whether there was a system to control costing, and bring to light any mere estimates of costing figures.  He stressed that in meetings between provinces and the national Department, there should be full compliance with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

Mr Mahlalela responded to the questions around capacity by stating that the programme had started only in this financial year, and development of the monitoring capacity was work in progress. Ultimately, the NDOT would have the capacity to monitor.
In regard to the monitoring, he confirmed that there was a need not only to monitor the spending patterns, but also the quality of the work that was done. He stated that there had been no re-allocation of money from anywhere else for the Programme Management Unit, since the National Treasury had simply not given the Department this funding. National Treasury had given an allocation of R22 billion for the next three years, but the Department would continue going back to National Treasury to ask for additional funding for roads. He stressed that the Department should not only rely on the national fiscus but was supposed also to try to source other methods of funding.

Mr Mahlalela stated that the programme was working well within provinces. The problems of costing were well known. He noted that the costs of making roads varied between R6 million and R70 million per kilometer, and if this continued, then South Africa would not be able to build roads in the next five years. It was not known precisely what caused the costing structure to increase. If that answer could be found then it would enable the Department to respond scientifically.

Ms L Mabija (ANC, Limpopo) was not satisfied with the Director-General’s response on the figures.  She felt that the Department was not sufficiently hands-on in relation to the issue of monitoring.

Mr Mahlalela responded that the issue of figures was one of misrepresentation. The figures that had been given in the presentation had come from the provinces, and the provinces must therefore respond on that. He did not feel that there was a problem with monitoring, as monitoring systems were in place.

KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Transport briefing
Mr Chris Hlabisa, Head of Department, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Department of Transport, gave a brief overview of his presentation, which included road infrastructure programmes such as the Zimbabele Road Maintenance Programme, the Vukuzakhe Emerging Contractor Development and the pothole programme strategy. His presentation would also focus on the Departmental monitoring processes and the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), which involved monitoring structures and processes. The KwaZulu Natal (KZN) Provincial Department was a pioneer in various developmental and labour-absorptive programmes that led to job creation and poverty eradication. The road infrastructure programme dealt with the development and management of the road network under the Sihambasonke Programme. The key focus areas were the development and management of key arterial routes, efficient use of labour-absorptive methods, Know Your Network, and ensuring a safe road environment through eradication of potholes. Projects were being undertaken through the African Renaissance Road Upgrade Programme (ARRUP), operation Kushunquthuli and Roads of National Importance (RNI).

Maintenance activities that were being undertaken on the road network involved the conserving of higher order roads through rehabilitation and resealing, preventative maintenance through re-gravelling, safety maintenance, and special maintenance.

The Zimbabele Road Maintenance Programme was launched in 1998. It was a labour-absorbing programme, and also alleviated poverty, by targeting women-headed households. In addition, permanent contracts for routine maintenance were allocated to the poorest of the poor. Total investment in the programme to date totalled R1.383 billion, and contractors had saved R12 million. Mr Hlabisa emphasised that the programme was aimed at poverty alleviation, and could not make the beneficiaries rich.

The Vukuzakhe Emerging Contractor Development Programme was an economic empowerment programme that targeted previously disadvantaged groups. It aimed to address anomalies in the construction sector by addressing the economic inequalities of the past. The contractors received targeted training and mentorship support.

The Provincial Department had implemented a two year pothole repair contract, which had commenced in the 2011/12 financial year, in order to address the backlog of pothole repairs. The database comprised 134 contractors ranging over grades 1 and 2. The pothole programme strategy had a number of benefits, such as producing a safe road network for the road user, reduced road accidents, reduced vehicle operating costs for road users, and reduced claims against the government.

Mr Hlabisa noted that there was a Departmental Monitoring and Evaluation Unit. All budget allocations were supported by approved business plans. Monthly progress reports were sent to the Monitoring and Evaluation Unit for monitoring outcomes, and progress was reported to management, National Treasury and Cabinet clusters. In addition, the Unit conducted site inspections to verify the reported outputs, as well as the outcomes of the projects.

Monitoring structures in place included the provincial steering committee, which convened on a quarterly basis, and which represented all sectors through senior managers with decision making powers. There was also a monitoring and evaluation committee.

Mr Hlabisa concluded that the programmes supported job creation and poverty eradication, while also stimulating economic growth in KZN. Collaborative efforts by all levels of government, as well as civil society, were key to the success and stability of the initiatives.

The Chairperson cautioned the provinces to give full and accurate responses, citing one example of the Committee being informed that a bridge existed in Limpopo province, only to find, during oversight, that there was no such bridge.

Ms Themba emphasised that full details on the number of jobs that had been created for women and people with disabilities should have been given.

Ms Mabija said that if the KZN report was a true reflection of what was going on then it was a job well done, and emphasised, following upon the Chairperson’s remarks, that the Committee would be visiting KZN for oversight, and hoped to be able to confirm the details given.

Mr Hlabisa responded that the Department had no reason to lie, and projects and programmes described were in existence and operating on the ground, and would welcome extensive tours by Members. He stressed that there were statistics available for the jobs that had been created for women. On the learnership programme, the Department had engaged with the poorest children, especially girls. Employing people with disabilities was still a problem.

The Chairperson stressed that there were still concerns around potholes, and asked why there were more potholes on provincial roads than national roads, despite the spending of substantial money.

Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Public Works, Road and Transport briefing
Mr Mpho Sabashane, Representative, Mpumalanga Provincial Department of Public Works, Road and Transport, said that this department had been allocated R1.016 billion and had prioritised the coal haulage route, the rural access route and the general maintenance of existing infrastructure. He emphasised that although the National Department might not have included full figures for his province, they were available. The disparity in the figures for job creation arose because a huge number of the jobs had been absorbed by one particular programme, and part of the allocation was put to the coal haulage programme. He emphasised that factors that must be taken into account on the costing included abnormal topography, and whether or not there was material on site, such as old tar, that needed to be dealt with. He mentioned, in relation to potholes, that the roads infrastructure was very old. He recommended that structural as opposed to cosmetic repairs should be done on the potholes, to avoid the same problems arising again. The Road Asset Management System had measured every part of the surface road, and had categorised roads, and again, all statistics were available.

Ms Themba requested that a progress report be given on the state of potholes, and the schedule for filling these holes. She also asked for the number of jobs that had been created for women and people with disabilities. Furthermore she asked how the Department dealt with interns.

Mr Mlenzani asked for feedback on the Makeni road, in which there was apparently a dispute over ownership.

Mr Sabashane responded that the Provincial Department had begun construction on the Makeni road. This road formed a T-junction with a road that belonged to the municipality. All the areas were covered and were under construction. The other road belonged to three authorities, namely Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. There had been designs done for the  total kilometers falling to be dealt with by Mpumalanga. Although the designs had been completed, there were currently insufficient funds to implement this design.

The Chairperson asked for clarity in relation to the Moloto road.

Mr Sabashane said that the Department had done, and extended, phase 1 for the Moloto road and rail, and had continued to and completed phase 2. He stressed that all feasibility studies had been done.

Mr Sabashane also confirmed that, in respect of the on main programme that he had mentioned, 8346 jobs had been created in total, of which 4 222 pertained to this financial year.

Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Roads and Public Works briefing
Mr Quinton Mageza, General Manager, Department of Roads and Public Works, Eastern Cape, stressed that the data on job creation had been submitted. The number of work opportunities created was around 26 000, to which an additional 1 500 were now added. In terms of emerging contractor development. he stressed that the Eastern Cape had put aside R540 million to develop emerging contractors from grade 1 to grade 5. The programme had about 700 contractors. The Eastern Cape’s Road Asset Management System was quite advanced, and this meant that the Provincial Department could develop priority areas for immediate intervention. In this financial year the Department intended to expand the road management system to municipalities within the Eastern Cape Province. In relation to the price escalation, the Eastern Cape intended to have its own in-house capacity, as one possible solution.

The Eastern Cape provincial road network consisted of about 43 000 kilometres of roads, of which only about 12%,or approximately 5 200 kilometres, had been surfaced. This network carried 62% of traffic volumes. The network was thus severely stressed, and it was in an unstable and deteriorating condition. The Provincial Department or Roads and Public Works received about R2 billion for roads and EPWP programmes, but the amount had to be spread over 43 000kms. Approximately 50% was spent on capital projects and overheads such as salaries, planning, Monitoring and Evaluation and governance. The remainder was spent on maintenance. There had been underfunding of road maintenance, throughout South Africa, since the 1980s and this resulted in a huge backlog of maintenance. Approximately R1.3 billion was needed to attend to the Eastern Cape roads. These problems were further compounded by the damages done by the recent floods. A visual image was presented to the Committee of some of the roads in the Eastern Cape, such as a road in Coffee Bay that was said to be environmentally friendly because animals used some of the potholes as watering holes.

The Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Road and Public Works had a Road Asset Management System in place to assess and record condition data, monitor condition trends over time, determine priority maintenance needs and optimise the impact of limited available funding. The Eastern Cape Road Maintenance Strategy incorporated the Road Asset Management System, which covered the surfaced and un-surfaced network and the pothole repair programme on the entire provincial network. In the first quarter of this year, 19 245 square meters of potholes had been patched. An amount of R60 million had been allocated over three years, in order to assist King Sabata Dalindyebo Municipality to set up a Project Management Strategy, and to fix potholes in Mthatha. There was also development of small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), and the Roads Programme had set up a three-year emerging Contractor programme according to levels 1 to 5 of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), as well as a consultant programme to build road construction and maintenance expertise. R540 million had been budgeted for the programme for 2011/12. Emerging consultants would be rotated through the various sub-programmes annually, in order to improve their experience and expertise. Furthermore, it was projected that 3 562 jobs per year over the next three years would be created under this programme.

Mr Mageza stressed that more certainty and three- year appointment terms for the surfaced and un-surfaced contracts would generate significant numbers of quality jobs and training. Household contractors employed under the Zibambele programme would be incorporated into these maintenance contracts to ensure proper utilisation, health and safety compliance supervision and quality control.

Mr Magaza concluded that Eastern Cape was among the top three contributors to job creation. Monitoring structures and processes were in place for job creation, but participation by municipalities was less than optimal. The maintenance and capital budgets for the Eastern Cape road network were said to be grossly inadequate. A comprehensive maintenance strategy had been implemented to ensure the best possible level of service within current capacity restraints. To ensure that the issue of potholes was addressed, the Provincial Department was investigating best practices in labour-intensive pothole patching. It was stressed that the Eastern Cape would try to 'hold the network' together until the additional funding that was promised by the National Treasury for 2014 was available to help address the backlogs.

Limpopo Provincial Department of Roads and Transport
Ms Pinky Kekana, MEC for Roads and Transport, Limpopo, stressed that there were indeed figures available for Limpopo, although not included in the National DOT presentation. There were 4 432 full-time equivalent jobs. The Department sought to standardise the kilometer cost, and provision of speed humps, through the Minister. The turnaround time to attend to potholes would be reduced. South African National Roads Agency Limited (SANRAL) attended to potholes within 48 hours. Eight contractors were appointed to deal with pothole patching and to respond timeously to problems. She stressed that all potholes were unlikely to be able to be closed in this financial year but the Department would try to do so. There were funding limitations, which meant that the Provincial Department was only able to attend to 150 kilometres of road per year. The current budget allocations would allow the Department to construct 3 000 kilometres of the provincial road network in 26 years. Moreover, it would cost R28 billion to address the 15 000 kilometres of backlogs. There was thus a need to motivate for additional support, including other alternatives for funding.

Ms Kekana noted that an assessment on the state of bridges had been done. There were 102 bridges that could collapse any time, and the Department sought to address these problems before the rainy season. R220 million was needed to repair the bridges. The Limpopo Department of Roads and Transport was mainly responsible for the implementation of the EPWP programme implementation.

Ms Themba asked why Limpopo had learned lessons from KZN when Mpumalanga was much nearer. She congratulated the presenters from Limpopo on their presentation.

The Chairperson asked whether the Programme Management Unit in fact already existed, because the Director-General of NDOT seemed to indicate that it was not yet in place. The Chairperson was concerned about the cost of consultants, and asked if this Province did not have other options available to them. The Chairperson asked for feedback and clarity in relation to a bridge that had to be repaired, and the issue of potholes.

Ms Kekana responded, in relation to the Programme Management Unit (PMU), that Limpopo was one of the provinces that had an agency responsible for roads, similar to SANRAL, which was named the Road Agency Limpopo. SANRAL was responsible for upgrading roads, including preventative maintenance and rehabilitation. The Department was responsible for routine maintenance, so the whole maintenance programme was put under one umbrella. The Programme Management Unit was designed so that the Department would have in-house capacity to deal with the issue of maintenance. She explained that consultants were used to do designs for rehabilitation programmes, but the PMU was able to independently assess the costing that had been given by the professionals.

Ms Kekana responded, in relation to the query on the bridges, that maintenance was something that had to be planned thoroughly, and this included both the maintenance of roads and bridges. The challenge with the Mankele bridge was that the contractor could not find the bedrock in the river, resulting in a need to import some material. There was, however, progress on this.

Western Cape Provincial Department of Transport briefing
Mr Hannes Mouton, Representative, Western Cape Provincial  Department of Transport, also indicated that he could not understand why the figures for the Western Cape were not included in the presentation given by the Director-General of the National Department of Transport. He stressed that 33% of pothole repairs were done by district municipalities, who were paid for doing so. The Provincial Roads Unit repaired about 19%, and the balance of 48% were repaired by routine maintenance contractors. In addition, this Provincial Department they employed in excess of 1 500 people on a full time basis. The statistics on the number of women who had been employed could be given at a later stage.

Mr Tau was concerned that the presentations given by the Director-General of the National Department of Transport, and those done by the provincial Departments did not correspond in several respects. For instance, the NDOT had given the number of full-time equivalent jobs as 597, whereas the Western Cape presentation reflected only 170.

The Chairperson proposed that the current meeting be adjourned, agreeing that there was conflicting information being presented to the Committee. He requested that the provinces must supply the Committee with the correct information.

Mr Mahlalela stressed that provinces were supposed to have more numbers on jobs that had been created, since they had additional budgets from their own provincial allocation.

Mr Mouton explained the Western Cape presentation referred to people who were working only on potholes, whereas the Director General had been referring to the numbers employed under the entire maintenance grant.

Mr Mlenzani requested that a consistent template be supplied to all provinces, including space to report on how much money was spent, progress that had been made, and general delivery.

Mr Tau stressed that the presentations by the Director-General and the provinces had to be consistent. It was worrying that the numbers that the provinces had presented were considerably lower than those presented by the National Department.

The Chairperson requested that the provinces submit all the required information before the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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