COVID-19: Regulations and Guidelines
Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002
Schedule of Services to be phased in as per COVID-19 Risk Adjusted Strategy
President Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa's response to Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
The Public Works and Infrastructure Committees of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces met jointly to be briefed on how the Department under their oversight was responding to the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown regulations that fell within its area of responsibility.
The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) focused on the properties earmarked to be used as quarantine facilities for patients. This included providing the background to the need for quarantine facilities, their location and number, the Department’s key responsibilities, the budget for the renovation of some facilities, and the management of the quarantine sites. The specific support roles of the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) were described, as well as the various challenges the Department had to deal with in implementing the project.
The DPWI explained challenges that they faced when they used public facilities as quarantine sites. These included costly repairs and renovations, the theft of equipment and damage to unguarded assets, the procurement of beds and linen being a lengthy process, and the provision of catering services required separate arrangements. In the meantime, the DPWI had rented 14 hotels for the purposes of quarantining people and for isolation, at a total cost for 2 125 people of R28.67m.
Members’ questions were centred on the high cost of using private facilities as quarantine sites, the poor condition of state facilities, and the time delays in their repair and upgrading. The need for adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the EPWP participants was stressed, with warnings of potential litigation should they – and those they were in contact with – become infected.
The DPWI then presented a detailed report on the Beitbridge border fence erection project. Plans to replace the broken down fence had commenced within days of the President’s announcement of a State of Disaster, and the 40 km stretch of fencing – 20 km on each side of Beitbridge – had been completed by the end of April at a cost of around R37 million.
Members were concerned about what they considered the excessive cost of the Beitbridge fence project, and it was alleged that four kilometers of the fence had already been removed since the completion of the project. The lack of quality checks and the following of proper protocols were questioned, and the Committee resolved to undertake a site visit as soon as possible.
Properties earmarked for quarantine facilities
Mr Morris Mabinja, Acting Director-General: Real Estate Management Services, DPWI, briefed the Committee on the response from the public works and infrastructure sector regarding the properties earmarked to be used as quarantine facilities for patients. This included providing the background to the need for quarantine facilities, the key responsibilities of the DPWI, the locations and number of the facilities, the budget for the renovation of some facilities, the management of the quarantine sites, the challenges, interventions, and the progress made so far by the DPWI in this regard.
The amended regulations state that the Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure must identify and make available sites to be used as isolation and quarantine facilities as the need arises. The Member of the Executive Council responsible for Public Works must identify and make available sites to be used as isolation and quarantine facilities within each province, as the need arises. The accounting officers of municipalities must identify and make available sites to be used as isolation and quarantine facilities within their local areas, and provide the list to the Department of Health (DoH) for resourcing.
He said the DPWI was represented in the Public Health and Infection Containment Work-stream (PHICW), which is chaired by the DoH. This structure reports to the National Joint Operation and Intelligent Services (NATJOINTS), which is chaired by the Director-General in the Presidency and Secretary of Defence. In its reports, the PHICW includes updates on quarantine facilities from the provincial departments of the DoH and the DPWI. NATJOINTS reports to the National Command Council (NCC), which is chaired by President Ramaphosa.
Key responsibilities of the DPWI and the DoH:
The key responsibility of the DPWI was to identify sites from the Immovable Asset Register of the DPWI, the Provincial Public Works Immovable Asset Register, state-owned entities, and the private sector. The DPWI then submits the list of sites to the DoH, which conducts the assessment and grants approval based on guidelines and specifications. The approved list of sites is then submitted to the DPWI. The DPWI issues commitment letters to the private establishments based on the need, and the commitment must be in line with the negotiated rates and tariffs as issued by National Treasury. The necessary repairs and resourcing are conducted with the requisite equipment to ensure functional quarantine or isolation sites. The DoH activates the facility from the private sector establishments and state-owned entities, which involves the dispatching of the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE), medical and security services. The DPWI signs the service level agreement with the private establishments and the DoH admits people for quarantine after the site is activated. The DPWI receives and processes the invoices and facilitates payment within 30 days.
Assessed facilities and degree of compliance:
As at 30 April, the DPWI had identified 1 407 quarantine facilities across the country, which makes 108 820 beds available for patients. After assessment, the DPWI found that only 318 facilities were compliant with the health and safety regulations relating to COVID-19, and only 24 101 beds were available. After finding that facilities were compliant, the DPWI activated 98 facilities (66 state-owned facilities and 32 privately owned facilities). 9 571 beds were available for use -- 3 098 in state-owned facilities, and 6 473 in private facilities. Across the activated facilities, 4 427 people were currently in quarantine.
In the Eastern Cape (with eight districts), 358 facilities were identified allowing for 12 556 beds. After assessment, 114 of these sites were compliant and 4 547 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, zero quarantine facilities were activated -- there were zero people currently in quarantine in the Eastern Cape. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Alfred Nzo (10), Amathole (14), Buffalo (16), Chris Hani (18), Joe Gqabi (6), Nelson Mandela (13), OR Tambo (34), and Sarah Baartman (6).
In the Free State (with five districts), 57 facilities were identified, allowing for 3 617 beds. After assessment, 17 of these sites were compliant, and 1 333 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, five quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 8.77% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 57 people currently in quarantine in the Free State. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Gqabi (1), Lejweleputswa (3), Mangaung (6), Mofutsanyane (6), and Xhariep (1).
In the Gauteng (with five districts), 253 facilities were identified, allowing for 33 763 beds. After assessment, 39 of these sites were compliant, and 9 298 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, 15 quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 5.92% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 3 280 people currently in quarantine in Gauteng. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: City of Johannesburg (14), Tshwane (13), Ekurhuleni (10), and the West Rand (2).
In KwaZulu-Natal (with eleven districts), 167 facilities were identified, allowing for 13 856 beds. After assessment, 50 of these sites were compliant, and 915 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, five quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 2.99% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 155 people currently in quarantine in KwaZulu-Natal. Per district, the following facilities were identified: Amajuba (4), Ethekwini (7), Harry Gwala (4), Ilembe (2), King Cetywayo (9), Ugu (4), Umgungundlovu (4), Umkhanyakude (6), Umzinyathi (4), Uthukela (3), and Zululand (4).
In Limpopo (with five districts), 92 facilities were identified, allowing for 3 460 beds. After assessment, 15 of these sites were compliant, and 1 051 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, six quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 6.52% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 161 people currently in quarantine in Limpopo. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Capricon (3), Mopani (1), Vhembe (4), and Waterberg (6).
In Mpumalanga (with three districts), 96 facilities were identified, allowing for 7 925 beds. After assessment, 18 of these sites were compliant and 1 385 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, two quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 2.08% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 62 people currently in quarantine in Mpumalanga. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Ehlanzeni (8), Gert Sibande (4), and Nkangala (6).
In the Northern Cape (with five districts), 131 facilities were identified, allowing for 5 731 beds. After assessment, 23 of these sites were compliant and 1 249 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, nine quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 6.87% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 41 people currently in quarantine in the Northern Cape. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Francis Baard (4), John Taolo Gaetsewe (5), Namakwa (7), Pixley KaSeme (6), and ZF Mgcau (1).
In North West (with four districts), 81 facilities were identified, allowing for 6 596 beds. After assessment, 12 of these sites were compliant, and 499 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, six quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 7.41% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 51 people currently in quarantine in North West. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Bojanala (4), Dr Kenneth Kaunda (2), Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati (1), and Ngaka Modiri Molema (5).
In the Western Cape (with six districts), 172 facilities were identified, allowing for 21 316 beds. After assessment, 30 of these sites were compliant and 3 824 beds available. After compliance was confirmed, nine quarantine facilities were activated, correlating to 5.23% of the identified sites that are used for quarantine and isolation purposes. There were 620 people currently in quarantine in the Western Cape. Per district, the following number of facilities were identified: Cape Winelands (4), Central Karoo (1), City of Cape Town (13), Garden Route (8), Overberg (2), and the West Coast (1).
Rental costs of privately owned facilities used as quarantine sites
When hotels are used as quarantine facilities, the costs depend on the rating of the hotel. A one-star hotel room costs R850 per person, or R1 035 sharing. A two-star hotel room costs R950 per person, or R1 135 sharing. A three-star hotel room costs R1 050 per person, or R1 235 sharing. A four-star hotel costs R1 200 per person, or R1 385 sharing. These costs include breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
The Department of Tourism and the National Treasury had agreed that the whole hotel must be taken over. Three meals must be provided on trays to the people in quarantine in their rooms, laundry and cleaning facilities must be added, and a staff stipend included. Additional costs were incurred when the room was deep cleansed after an infected person had departed and left quarantine. It was also necessary to purchase bio-waste garbage bags when the contracted company does not collect medical waste on time.
The DPWI had rented 14 hotels for the purposes of quarantining people and for isolation. Seven hotels in the City of Johannesburg had been used to quarantine 840 people for two weeks at a cost of R11.99m. Three hotels in the City of Cape Town were used to quarantine 545 people for two weeks at a cost of R8.35m. One hotel in the eThekwini was used to quarantine 166 people for two weeks at a cost of R2.44m. One hotel in Ekurhuleni was used to quarantine 300 people for 11 days at a cost of R3.46m. Two hotels in the City of Tshwane were used to quarantine 274 people for two weeks at a cost of R4.22m. The total cost of renting the hotels as quarantine facilities for 2 125 people was R28.67m.
State-owned facilities as quarantine centres
The DPWI has two of its facilities (Salvakop and Tshwane West College) earmarked for quarantine sites, which have been subjected to refurbishment to serve as quarantine centres. The facilities have a combined capacity for over 100 beds. The Tshwane West College has 47 beds. with a cost of R1.21m in building infrastructure and movable assets. The Salvakop facility has 64 beds, with a cost of R3.78m in building infrastructure and movable assets. Both facilities are in Tshwane metropolitan area.
It had taken over two months to have the facilities refurbished and currently furnished to accommodate people that would be referred for quarantine or isolation. The DPWI’s facilities management branch project had managed work of the repairs to the two facilities. The DPWI would provide its security for the infrastructure, while the South African Police Service (SAPS) would make its resources available to ensure enforcement of the law for quarantined people. The provincial Public Works had their own state-owned facilities, which they avail from their own immovable asset register to serve as quarantine centres. For any refurbishment work, the provinces use their own procurement system and account to the head of the Department and the Member of Executive responsible for the Public Works-portfolio. For funding purposes, the provinces would engage their provincial treasury directly.
Challenges with public facilities
The DPWI raised challenges that they face when they use public facilities as quarantine sites. Firstly, repairs and renovations of sites were costly and have a time delay. Private establishments could be used in the meanwhile to allow some time to refurbish facilities that had been assessed and found to be compliant with the COVID-19 health and safety protocols, but that needed some work.
Secondly, the theft of equipment and damage to unguarded assets were a fundamental problem. The security resources of the SAPS could be activated before the site was resourced with beds, linen and other necessary materials.
Thirdly, the procurement of beds and linen were a lengthy process, and the disposal strategy after the COVID-19 pandemic required thoughtful consideration. The costs must be quantified, and a disposal strategy had to be devised with the DoH.
Fourthly, the provision of catering services required separate arrangements. The use of the EPWP (for labour intensive work opportunities) to cook, serve food, conduct screening of individuals and for cleaning services, had to be explored.
Lastly, occupational health and safety requirements, and an efficient turnaround time, must be ensured to fix the existing problems.
Challenges, interventions, and progress update
There were seven main challenges for the DPWI in the process of providing well-functioning quarantine sites and ensuring that people were quarantined in isolation according to the health and safety protocols.
Firstly, the process of quarantine commenced with directives and without Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The Minister had instructed that SOPs should be developed to enhance and clarify further the current internal circular on the role of the Department. A protocol document on roles of key stakeholders – the DPWI, DoH and the Department of Tourism was needed. Currently, SOPs were being finalised for approval, and a protocol document would be presented to the Ministers of the DPWI, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Defence and the DoH on 4 May.
The terms and conditions upon which the private hotels are rented, were problematic. The DPWI must pay for the whole hotel, regardless of the occupancy level, and upfront payment is required. The DPWI was currently negotiating with hotels to be flexible in their terms and conditions. Certain hotels were more flexible, while others were resisting. This process was ongoing.
The DPWI gets short notice of repatriation flights carrying people who would need to be quarantined. The DPWI was engaging with the NATJOINTS work-stream, and had agreed on a 72-hour lead-time to allow the DPWI to arrange quarantine facilities. This process was ongoing.
People were checking into hotels to self-quarantine at the expense of the government, and the DPWI had engaged with the various hotels to ensure that this was not allowed. Agencies were calling hotels claiming to be acting on behalf of the government to activate quarantine centres, and the DPWI had engaged with the various hotels to ensure that this was not allowed. People in quarantine facilities were being released prematurely before the expiry of the prescribed 14 days in quarantine. This matter had been presented to NATJOINTS, and it had been reemphasised that the 14 days’ period must be observed.
Lastly, certain provinces had not been implementing mandatory quarantine for people coming through the land ports of entry. This matter was presented to NATJOINTS, and the provinces were called upon to observe the mandatory quarantine requirements.
Role of EPWP beneficiaries as volunteer participants
Mr Devan Pillay, Chief Director: Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) briefed the Committee on the response from the public works and infrastructure sector regarding the role of EPWP beneficiaries in the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Providing a background to the DPWI-EPWP response intervention, he said that around 18 March, NATJOINTS had decided to mobilise a youth brigade to assist with quarantines sites. The DoH had requested the EPWP to assist with the educational component of their Hygiene Strategy. The DPWI had identified the EPWP’s non-state sector non-profit organisations (NPOs) programme as the best response mechanism to support the DoH, and 20 400 participants were initially identified to assist. In line with a Ministerial directive, 25 000 EPWP participants were to be recruited to assist with quarantine sites. To give effect to this commitment, the DPWI had signed a three months’ addendum with the Independent Development Trust (IDT) on 12 April, to contract qualifying NPOs registered on the IDT-database.
170 NPOs across all provinces and districts had been contracted to participate in the EPWP’s response intervention for the COVID-19 pandemic. Participants would be paid a daily wage rate of R101 per person, and PPE (including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizers) had to be provided to the recruited participants in all locations where work would be undertaken. Prior to the EPWP participants commencing with work, the NPOs would induct the participants on the conditions before concluding contractual agreements with them. The DoH would also provide the participants with training on the technical aspects of the work activities they would render. By 27 April, the NPOs had recruited 22 013 participants, and the outstanding 3 000 participants would be finalised by 7 May. The NPOs had recruited in local communities to ensure that the participants did not incur travel costs because of their participation.
Breakdown of targets of participants per province
The NPOs were still finalising the recruitment of the participants to achieve the targets as they were allocated. This process would be finalised by 7 May. There were 191 NPOs, and the target for participants was 25 000, but only 22 013 participants had been recruited so far.
For the Eastern Cape, there were 24 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 4 000 participants. The number recruited to date is was 547.
For the Free State, there were 10 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 1 950 participants. The number recruited to date was 1 625.
For Gauteng, there were 20 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 4 250 participants. The number recruited to date was 3 670.
For KwaZulu-Natal, there were 60 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 4 950 participants. The number recruited to date was 3 643.
For Limpopo, there were 25 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 2 500 participants. The number recruited to date was 2 462.
For Mpumalanga, there were 20 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 1 650 participants. The number recruited to date was 1 519.
For North West, there were 21 NPOs, and the target was to recruit 2 300 participants. The number recruited to date was 2 235.
For the Northern Cape, there were five NPOs and the target was to recruit 800 participants. The number recruited to date was 781.
For the Western Cape, there were nine NPOs, and the target was to recruit 2 600 participants. The number recruited to date was 2 531.
Scope of work
The EPWP participants would participate in three major categories of work -- promoting the hygiene strategy, the tracking of contacts, and triaging -- to support the DoH in the promotion of their hygiene strategy activities.
For the category of promoting the hygiene strategy, the education level was focused on grades 10, 11, and 12. Participants would be required to perform the following activities under the supervision of health care officials:
Providing health promotional messages;
Demonstrating the cough technique and the correct method of washing hands;
Demonstrating “Tippy Taps”; and
Monitoring social distancing.
For the category of the tracking of contacts, the education level was focused on grade 12 and beyond. Participants would provide support to the DoH based on the directive, and would help with conducting tracing, documenting activities, and reporting findings to the team leaders.
For the category of triaging, the education level was focused on grade 10 and beyond. Members would be allocated to specific facilities and would be informing clients where to go, and the rationale behind it.
The risks involved include the non-availability of PPEs, the failure by the DoH to provide training to EPWP participants, the possibility of participants becoming infected, delayed payments due to the late submission of the requisite documents and the non-reporting of participants, possible litigation after participants become infected, and the duplication of efforts with other spheres of government.
The DPWI would aim to manage these risks by ensuring that PPE was procured and used during the response intervention through the regulations set down by National Treasury. The participants would be covered through the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (COIDA), and upfront payments would be made to ensure that the participants were covered before starting work. All NPOs had to be inducted into the programme before commencing with the project. All responsibilities of the NPOs must be outlined and agreed on. The DPWI and EPWP officials would provide support by conducting regular site visits to NPOs. The DPWI would provide capacity to the NPOs for capturing the work opportunities that were created. Participants must be advised of the risks of the work to ensure they are able to give their informed consent before signing employment contracts with an indemnity clause.
The NPOs and the DoH aimed to complete the screening and verification of participants by 1 May. The following precautions had been taken:
All participants should be wearing masks.
The NPOs must apply hand sanitisers to all participants and officials performing verification.
Participants should be verified in groups of 50 per session, and the NPOs with more than 50 participants would have their participants verified over a period of at least four days.
The venue where verification of participants took place should allow for a six square metre space per participant, to adhere to the practice of social distancing.
The IDT, the DPWI and the DoH would verify and confirm the deployment of participants to the implementation sites. The DoH was responsible for the induction and training of the participants.
Participants would be deployed as per the required numbers and sub-activities (including the tracing of contacts and the triaging of clients or patients). All the entities involved would be responsible for the joint monitoring of implementation activities through site visits throughout the project and the reporting thereof.
Payment of participants during lockdown
The directive had been issued by the Minister on 26 March, with the intention of ensuring that EPWP participants, who were drawn from the poorest households, received an income during the lockdown. Subsequently, on 6 April, the Minister of Employment and Labour had released the Temporary Employee/ Employer Relief Scheme (TERS), which provides for employers to claim Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) benefits on behalf of their workers. The DPWI was of the view that the EPWP participants could claim from TERS, and a process was being implemented.
Report on the Beitbridge project
Mr Batho Mokhothu, Deputy-Director General: Construction Management, DPWI, briefed the Committee on the Beitbridge fencing project on the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe. The aim of the project was to repair and replace the existing borderline fence, matching the existing fencing, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As background to the project, Mr Mokhothu said the DPWI had been in the initial stages of appointing a service provider prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, after the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) had stated that their strategic borderline infrastructure was in a bad condition. The project addressed the short to medium term solution. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an exceedingly substantial risk for loss of life, a negative health and economic impact, and a devastating social impact on South Africa. President Ramaphosa had announced the declaration of a National State of Disaster on 15 March, and in accordance with section 27(2) (l) of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002, the Minister had issued a directive on 16 March for the emergency securing of the border posts. The first focus was to be on the Beitbridge border post, and the identified hotspots along this borderline.
The three salient parameters of the directive included the existing contract, a site visit to determine the costs, and the plan for the contract to commence on 20 March. The DPWI had met with SANDF officials at the army camp outside of Musina in Limpopo on 17 March. The purpose of the meeting was to get information on the fence’s specifications from the SANDF. At the meeting, three matters had been discussed. Firstly, the borderline fence would be surveyed, so there were no areas with periodic holes because the fence line was down. Secondly, the focus area for the borderline infrastructure installation would be 40km -- 20km on either side of Beitbridge -- in line with the provisional site clearance for maintenance. Thirdly, after considering the respective bills of quantities (BOQs) of the three existing repair and maintenance programme (RAMP) contracts at the nearest border posts, it was resolved that the Beitbridge land port of entry LPOE contractor had a security fence with scheduled rates that fitted the existing fence, and that contract would be used.
On 18 March, urgent meetings at the DPWI’s offices had been convened, where three matters where discussed. Firstly, the variation order process was aborted after consultation with the chairperson of the variation order committee (VOC). The scope of the work for the borderline fence was not related to the specific project for the LPOE. Secondly, options to meet the set deadline were discussed under an emergency basis. Thirdly, the ordinary procurement process would require three months to obtain a contractor, which was not in line with the directive.
In accordance with the National Treasury’s Instruction Note 8 of 2019/2020 on the Emergency Procurement of goods and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the invocation of emergency procedures was provided for. It was prudent to invoke the emergency procurement process that entailed the appointment of the required service providers through a negotiated procedure that was approved by the National Biotechnology Advisory Committee (NBAC). The procurement strategy for nomination became the most suitable, given the timelines provided by the Directive. The memorandum submitted to the NBAC requested them to ratify the prior negotiation with the contractor, as the pricing had been done for VO purposes and to approve the appointment of the contractor through the negotiated procurement procedure.
The market analysis was premised on the fact that the BOQs had been baselined from 2014’s scheduled rates, which had been determined through a competitive bidding process. The tender sum carried to the tender form amounted to R37.17m. The motivation for the contractor was that they were experienced, appropriately qualified -- holding a Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Grade 8CE -- and were already working on a RAMP-project at the Beitbridge LPOE. This meant that the mobilisation and establishment for this work could be done seamlessly, which was the most important consideration for procurement, considering the urgency of this case. Upon approval by the NBAC, the letters of award were generated by the legal services, which stated that the contractor’s bid was accepted in accordance with the rate tendered. The site was handed over to the contractor to start with establishment on 19 March, to achieve the practical completion on 20 April.
The contractor was Caledon River Properties (Pty) Ltd, t/a Magwa Construction, and the principal agent was Profleam CC. The contract’s commencement date was effective from the date of signature, which was 23 March. The contract period was for one month, and the completion date was scheduled for 20 April. The project had been fully completed by 28 April.
The scope of the work had included actions to be done for all eight portions (5km per portion) of work; the cleaning of fence routes for portioning; the inspection and repair of any visible damage to the installation per portion; installing boreholes for tubular posts and stays; fixing gates and drifts, washing away and installation of tubular posts; the installation of fences and checking for tightness to straining wires and redress or repair of any relevant portions; and the installation of six roles of concertina razor wire for tightness to straining wire, and repair if necessary.
The specifications of the project included that the fence must be 1.8m high and consist of the following main elements:
Galvanised tensioning posts (10mm diameter, 2mm thick) that are spaced at 90m on straight sections and smaller intervals around bends;
Galvanised intermediate posts (89mm diameter, 2mm thick) that are spaced at 30m intervals between tensioning posts;
Four strands of 4mm galvanised straining wire that are evenly spaced at 600mm from the centre-to-centre;
Six razor bottom turbine coils (BTCs) (730mm) placed three high and two wide; and
Razor mesh of 150mm by 300mm.
The DPWI presented a breakdown of the fencing installation bill, which included preliminary work amounting to R1.09m, repair and installation work amounting to R32.32m, and VAT charged amounting to R4.84m, adding up to the tender sum of R37.17m for the Beitbridge fencing project.
The DPWI and the principal agent were monitoring progress and sending out daily reports. In the initial audit conducted on 1 April, the contractor had scored 50%. In the follow-up audit on 7 April, the contractor had scored 82.6%. Following a breach of security, in which the contractor’s material was stolen, the Minister of the DPWI had written a letter to the Minister of the Department of Defence (DoD) on 4 April, requesting assistance in assigning officials from the DoD to patrol the border fence line to ensure measures to secure the border effectively. The Minister of Defence had responded on 7 April, stating that the SANDF Joint Operations Division had been directed to undertake this security challenge. Their operation would cover the area where the fence was being erected, and would reinforce the already deployed private security on site.
A high-level cost comparison per metre had anticipated a project value of R34m as the final account. The COVID-19 fence type cost R850.66 per metre, compared to a high security fence type costing R4 200 per metre, and a game fence type costing R200 per metre. The cost for the electrical component of a game fence was not included, and the rate to incorporate it per linear meter was R300.
The Director-General had issued a letter to the Secretary of Defence on 27 April, listing three main aspects for the way forward. Firstly, the DoD was required to intensify its patrol at the borderline fence between South Africa and Zimbabwe now that the project was complete. Secondly, an agreement between the DPWI and the DoD would be formulated to clarify the roles and responsibilities of the departments dealing with the borderline infrastructure. Thirdly, a military alliance or treaty between South Africa and Zimbabwe may be necessary to manage illegal crossing, as the borderline infrastructure was only as good as the ability to manage illegal crossings.
The DPWI had to ensure that an appropriate maintenance solution was provided at the borderline fence. A preventative maintenance solution was required to maintain the assets, even though there was a 12-month guarantee on any latent defects on material imperfections and poor workmanship. The finalisation of the planning aspects was currently under way for the overall borderline between South Africa and its neighbouring countries, to ensure adequate protection for the country.
Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) thanked the DPWI for the work they had done during this challenging period. The DPWI was requested to give the Committee clarification on the different dates on which the photographs in the presentation on the Beitbridge fencing project had been taken. Were there any more recent photographs available, showing the current situation? Was the payment of R101 per day for the EPWP employees adequate? Were there additional funds going to the employers? Would the beneficiaries of these payments benefit for the entire period of the lockdown, regardless of the level of the lockdown, or only during the hard lockdown? The DPWI was requested to provide the Committee with an update on the number of quarantine sites in the Eastern Cape, to allow the Committee to determine whether progress had been made. The Western Cape was currently the epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, so why were only private facilities being occupied and used? Lastly, the DPWI must explore the use of a national database for the purpose of keeping track of the quarantine sites that were used, and the relevant statistics to provide real-time data.
Mr M Tshwaku (EFF) raised the issue of quality checks being conducted on the Beitbridge fencing project. Who was the contractor that had done the quality check and approved the work? The DPWI was requested to provide the Committee with a breakdown of the costs relating to the project. It was the duty of the Committee to fulfil its oversight duty over the DPWI, and a site visit had to be arranged to prevent a reliance on hearsay to determine the state of the fence. The project had a heavy price tag, and it was preferable to have a state-owned company (SOC) involved. Could the DPWI provide the Committee with a list of the NPOs involved with the EPWP so the Committee could effectively conduct oversight? A clear timeline was also required to determine when training would be conducted for EPWP participants. Regarding the R101 payment, the DPWI must review the amount, as it seemed insufficient. What would the duration of the EPWP’s involvement in the COVID-19 response be?
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) emphasised the point raised by Mr Tshwaku regarding the oversight role of the Committee. A site visit was imperative, but the arrangements had to be made in terms of the once-off allowance permitted by the Department of Transport for Committee Members to travel to other provinces. Regarding the quarantine facilities, the DPWI was requested to provide the Committee with information on whether the facilities were paid for before they were occupied. In addition, the DPWI should explore using schools, lodges, and tertiary facilities that could be rented out to the government, to cut the costs involved in renting out private facilities for quarantine purposes. Were people being evaluated when they were released from quarantine, or only upon intake?
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KwaZulu-Natal) said the original purpose of the lockdown period had been to ensure that the country was ready for the COVID-19 pandemic from a health perspective, and to curb the spread of COVID-19. On 27 March, it had been decided to use EPWP participants to aid in achieving this purpose. However, the presentation by the DPWI indicated that the participants were still being trained and were not ready, even after five weeks of the lockdown period. The DPWI should have been ready for this before the lockdown started. He asked for a comprehensive list outlining all the provincial sites that were currently in use for the purpose of quarantine sites. This would aid the Committee in exercising its oversight role, and to ensure that the facilities used were in adequate condition. Many of the facilities had been reported to be severely below standard, such as the Zithabiseni quarantine site in Mpumalanga. On the Beitbridge fencing project, the DPWI was requested to explain the difference between the COVID-19 fence and a normal fence. The presentation by the DPWI had referred to R23m used to rent hotels as quarantine sites, and R5m used on Public Works sites. Did that refer to the full budget for quarantine facilities, or was there a larger budget?
Ms S Boshoff (DA, Mpumalanga) referred to the Zithabiseni quarantine site in Mpumalanga. Oversight has been done at the site, and the findings had been quite problematic, so it was necessary for the Committee to conduct a site visit to determine where the problems lie. What was the rate at which people were hosted at this facility, and what were the associated costs? Who was responsible for processing the payments, and who were the beneficiaries of these payments? The DPWI had mentioned that mandatory quarantine measures in the province of Limpopo were not being implemented when people travelled across its borders -- what had been done to address these challenges? How many people had been released prematurely from quarantine sites, and on whose authority were they released?
Ms A Siwisa (EFF) asked if the EPWP volunteer participants and recruits had been screened and received training? Would they be working alone, or in the presence of medical professionals? The DPWI had indicated that the participants would be assisted should they become infected, but would their immediate families and people they encountered also be assisted? It was a traumatising experience for these participants, and they needed to receive counselling should they become infected, and to prepare them for the work they would be doing. What criteria had been used to identify the NPOs involved in the EPWP? Were these NPOs aware of their exact mandates and what work they would be expected to do? Regarding the Beitbridge fencing project, the DPWI should account for why the state of the fence had deteriorated to such a degree that it took the DoD to discover that there were problems. It was the mandate of the DPWI to undertake constant maintenance of their infrastructure. How long has the fence not been in a proper condition?
Mr W Thring (ACDP) observed that more private facilities were being used than state-owned facilities for quarantine purposes. The rental costs of the private facilities were expensive, and the funds should have been used to upgrade the existing state-owned facilities. An updated and detailed asset register from the DPWI was required. Why did the two epicentres, Gauteng and the Western Cape, have fewer operating quarantine sites than the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which had lower infection rates? The DPWI had the largest property portfolio in the country. How many state properties were currently being used to install 5G antennas, and had a risk-health analysis been conducted prior to approval? The DPWI had to inform the Committee on the effectiveness of the Beitbridge borderline fence to prevent illegal entry into South Africa. What other measures or interventions had been put in place to secure the country’s ports and borders? The ACDP had noted the Ministerial directive to recruit 25 000 EPWP participants to help the quarantine sites, but this paled in comparison to the millions of South Africans who were losing their jobs and would face problems such as hunger and poverty.
Mr T Mashele (ANC) emphasised the need of the Committee to complete a site visit to the Beitbridge borderline fence. Regarding the EPWP participants, the DPWI had to ensure that those involved were protected. The safety of people involved in the NPOs and the EPWP beneficiaries may require attention with regards to PPE, as vulnerable people could not be allowed to fall ill while working. The safety of these workers was the priority of the government. How much of the R101 per day payment got paid to the EPWP participants after the NPOs took their cut? On the issue of quarantine sites, the DPWI could explore avenues of utilising currently non-operational spaces, such as university residences or government buildings. Why were hotels being used, when guesthouses could be used at cheaper rates?
Ms M Hicklin (DA) said that the problems in the currently used quarantine facilities could have been addressed if the DPWI had been working from a proper immovable asset register. Was any oversight done on the potential sites that were included in the list of quarantine facilities? The SOPs had not been completed five weeks after the National State of Disaster and the lockdown period was announced. Regarding the premature release of people from quarantine facilities, it had been determined by good medical practices that people entering the country had already been placed under quarantine before repatriation. They were also placed in quarantine in South Africa for a period of at least five days before they were tested. People who tested negatively could then be allowed to self-isolate at home. There was no need to house people in quarantine facilities at the expense of the government when they could do so at home. Finally, the rate paid to the hotels was astronomical. What were the rates paid to state-owned facilities, and who determined these rates? Were the privately-owned facilities paid in full before occupation?
Mr J Londt (DA, Western Cape) spoke from the perspective of the Western Cape, but noted that the concerns being raised were applicable across all provinces. A list of properties that was needed by local municipalities had been submitted to the DPWI -- when will it release this list to the municipalities to allow them to do their part in relieving the crisis that the country was in?
Ms S Graham (DA) questioned on what basis it had been decided that the old borderline fence would be reconstructed. According to the pictures the Committee had received, the previous fence had been completely removed, and it was acknowledged that the fence was gone. Who decided to replicate the old fence? The programme of the work schedule in constructing the new Beitbridge fence allowed for eight days of fence removal per every 5km. This amounted to 64 days of work to remove the old fence. What was the cost of this work, and why was it not removed from the programme once it was established that there was no fence left to remove? One of the justifications for the project’s extremely high price tag was that the logistics of the site and the noticeably brief period of the project had resulted in labour and material costs being more expensive. How could the contractor then afford the additional security within the costing of this project, when these costs did not form a part of their initial BOQs? Only a 4% margin for the consumer price index (CPI) had been incorporated into the tender sum, and the rates were based on 2016 figures. What had been the justification for the high price of this project, as calculated in 2016, given that there were no time constraints at that stage when the rates were determined?
Mr P van Staden (FF+) referred to the quarantine facilities that were not ready and able to house the people who had to be quarantine. No inspections were done by anyone before these facilities were activated. Complaints had been received stating that the facilities lacked water and electricity. Referring again to the Zithabiseni quarantine facility, the importance of the DPWI allowing the Committee to do site visits as an oversight mechanism was emphasised. The borders must be closed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, but the projects must be managed so that taxpayers’ money was not wasted. He asked the DPWI to outline how the Beitbridge borderline fence would be managed in the future.
Mr M Nxumalo (IFP) requested the DPWI to be more specific on the venues that had to be identified by local government. The DPWI was not working at the required pace, and it was insufficient that only 915 out of 13 856 beds had been made available in KwaZulu-Natal. The upfront payment to hotels was problematic. Private businesses should control the need to make a profit during this time of human suffering. What happened if the hotels were not fully occupied? This issue was tied to the problem of the 14-day quarantine period. The DPWI should not be paying for facilities that were not fully used. The DPWI was requested to provide the Committee with an outline of the funds spent on the Beitbridge fencing project. He expressed concerns regarding the feasibility of the project in general.
Co-Chairperson Mmoiemang said that the Minister had informed the Committee that she had requested the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) to assess whether the DPWI had complied with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), and the National Treasury’s emergency procurement regulations with regard to the Beitbridge fencing project. The Committee had been informed that the AGSA had subsequently requested more time to investigate the matter.
Co-Chairperson Ntobongwana thanked the Members for raising their questions and concerns, and invited the DPWI to raise their concerns and respond to the questions.
Ms Patricia de Lille, Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic was a first for the country.
She confirmed that a letter had been written to the AGSA to assess whether the DPWI complied with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and the National Treasury’s emergency procurement regulations with regard to the Beitbridge fencing project. The AGSA had confirmed that they would be conducting the investigation, but had indicated that the process may be delayed due to the lockdown period.
It was not the DPWI that determined how long people had to remain in quarantine – it was within the scope of the DoH to make that decision. It was in the mandate of the DPWI only to identify the sites for quarantine facilities.
A main list of all the quarantine facilities was being compiled. Up to 4 May, over 1 300 facilities had been identified, and 215 sites were ready to be activated. The procedure was that the DoH would request the DPWI to facilitate a quarantine facility, based on the need. The actual locations of the sites would not be published, to respect the privacy of the people under quarantine. The Committee’s need to conduct site visits would be discussed with the DoH.
Adv Sam Vukela, Director-General: DPWI, said the amount spent on the EPWP employees was determined by the Minister of Employment and Labour, and was outside the scope of the DPWI’s mandate.
The DPWI followed a multi-disciplinary approach, and the DoH was the entity responsible for conducting the assessments to determine which quarantine sites were used. He assured the Committee that they would be provided with a breakdown of the costs and a list of the NPOs involved in the EPWP.
The concerns of the Committee had been noted, but the Committee should be mindful of the DPWI’s heavy reliance on the DoH during its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DoH was the main departmental entity that was paying for the relevant facilities and the quarantine procedures, but they were engaging with the National Treasury regarding the reimbursement of the DPWI’s costs where appropriate.
Mr Mabinja said companies that did not comply with the Disaster Management Regulations would be reported to the Department of Labour.
The EPWP participants and medical professionals would be trained by the DoH. It is also the task of the DoH to provide the needed PPE to those involved in the process.
The problem at the Beitbridge fence project was identified only by the DoD, as they were the client, and the DPWI was merely the service provider. It was the duty of the DoD to patrol the borders and inform the DPWI of the state and condition of the fence, should it need any maintenance or repair.
Mr Pillay said that during the COVID-19 lockdown period, all EPWP beneficiaries under contract should remain as beneficiaries, and that the beneficiaries would be able to draw from the Unemployment Insurance Fund once their contracts expired.
The Minister concluded the departmental responses by stating that the DPWI had started with the quarantine facilities on 12 April. Before that date, the Tourism Council had made available R30m and then contracted directly with the private hotels used as quarantine sites.
Lastly, the criminality on South Africa’s borders should be emphasised -- it occurred at various hotspots. The DPWI had requested assistance in assigning officials from the DoD to patrol the border fence, to ensure that there were adequate measures to secure the border effectively. The Minister of Defence had responded on 7 April, stating that the SANDF Joint Operations Division had been directed to undertake this security challenge. However, the problem had persisted and the DPWI would engage with the relevant departments to ensure a collective provincial approach to the problem. Due to time constraints, further information would be provided to the Committee on the questions that had not been answered.
Mr Van Staden thanked the DPWI for their responses. Regarding the adequate patrolling of the Beitbridge fencing project, the DPWI must engage with the DoD. The DoH must be engaged with by the Minister to address the concerns regarding the quarantine facilities.
Ms Siwisa stressed the importance of female empowerment during the DPWI’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Compiling a comprehensive asset register must be made a priority.
Ms Graham asked about the deployment of the EPWP participants. The NPOs were required to provide hand sanitisers and other measures at the places where people were screened. What costs were covered by the DPWI in that regard, or could the NPOs claim the costs back? Four kilometers of the Beitbridge borderline fence had already been removed since the completion of the project. The DPWI must engage the relevant Departments to ensure that a sustainable and more stable fencing project was undertaken.
Mr Tshwaku asked when the Committee would receive the requested reports and the list of the NPOs. What were the movable assets that the DPWI had referred to in the upgrading of the state-owned facilities? What measures would be undertaken to improve the quarantine circumstances affecting the homeless people, particularly in Cape Town? He asked for drawings of the Beitbridge borderline fence to be provided by the DPWI.
The meeting was adjourned.
- DPWI: Response to COVID-19 through Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) Report
- DPW: 40 km Borderline Infrastructure and Installation between RSA/Zimbabwe
- DPWI: Quarantine Sites Reponse to Covid19
- Media Statement: Committees Note Responses from Department on Beitbridge Border Fence, EPWP Beneficiaries and Quarantine Sites for Covid-19
Mmoiemang, Mr MK
Ntobongwana, Ms N
Boshoff, Ms SH
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
De Lille, Ms P
Graham, Ms SJ
Hicklin, Ms MB
Kiviet, Ms N
Kopane, Ms SP
Landsman, Mr ER
Londt, Mr J
Mashele, Mr TV
Mathebula, Mr EF
Mjobo, Ms LN
Motsamai, Mr K
Nxumalo, Mr MN
Rayi, Mr M
Shabalala, Ms LF
Siwisa, Ms AM
Thring, Mr WM
Tolashe, Ms N G
Tshwaku, Mr M
Van Schalkwyk, Ms SR
Van Staden, Mr PA
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