The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) has undertaken several measures within its mandate, in response to the spread of Covid-19.
As part of an ongoing process, the department has identified 37 State-owned properties in various provinces which could possibly be used as quarantine sites.
Minister Patricia de Lille said in a briefing on Thursday that some of these sites would be available to people living in informal settlements where there were currently no such facilities available.
The department is also engaging all provincial Public Works departments and local governments to identify possible quarantine sites in all 44 districts and eight metros in cases where there were no available DPWI-owned properties.
In a statement, the Portfolio Committee on Public Works and Infrastructure welcomed this move.
“The committee is pleased with the fact that these sites will cater for all South African citizens, particularly those patients who are not able to afford private healthcare.
“The committee sees this move as a demonstration of how serious the government takes this pandemic. This step also shows the government’s commitment in treating, and containing Covid-19 in a manner that protects the well-being of society,” it said.
SHORING UP BORDERS
Further, the DPWI is installing a fence at the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe, to ensure that no undocumented or infected persons cross into the country and vice versa.
De Lille emphasised that this was not being done in a xenophobic vein, but rather, to protect those entering and leaving the country, as undocumented entrees would not be able to pass through without undergoing the necessary health screening checks.
Moreover, the department is communicating these process with neighbouring countries and organisations such as the African Union, she said.
Forty kilometres of 1.8-m-high fence will be erected, 20 km on either side of the Beitbridge Land Port of Entry.
As of Wednesday, the specifications were finalised and all of the emergency supply chain management processes were undertaken; and the contractor was appointed.
On Thursday, the site will be handed over to the contractor to begin with the work.
“Due to this being an emergency, my department has instructed the contractor to substantially increase the number of teams deployed and the rate of delivery tenfold,” emphasised De Lille.
The department has also implemented other measures to expedite the process, with all 40 km to be completed within one month.
The cost of the project is about R37.2-million.
CONSTRUCTION SECTOR IMPACT
Meanwhile, De Lille indicated that the construction industry and built environment sector, especially when working for national and provincial governments, would face severe financial crisis over the next two to three months, owing to the end of the department’s financial year being March 31.
“I have communicated this to the President to determine what solution we can come up with to assist in expediting payments for work done or maybe extending the payment authorisation payment period for the 2019/20 financial year beyond March 31,” she informed.
She indicated that companies closing doors and sending staff home would mean a delay in signing new contracts in the new financial year, with a slight possibility that they would only be able to begin work in May and invoice in August, being paid 30 days later at the end of August.
“This, in essence, means that many or most professional service providers, contractors and material suppliers will have no revenue coming in for at least three months and maybe as long as five months,” she said.