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NC community members protest over road project jobs

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The protesters blocked the N18 road near Jan Kempdorp

Pictures: Supplied

A GROUP of community members staged a protest on the N18 near Jan Kempdorp on Friday in protest over the alleged irregular appointment of workers for the Phokwane routine road maintenance project.

Tyres were set alight while rocks were placed in the road to obstruct traffic.

Community members claimed that only friends and family members of a Phokwane ward councillor were appointed on the project.

“The posts were never advertised and local community members were not given a fair opportunity to be considered. Unemployment is a big problem and we are being overlooked,” said the community members.

“We have submitted petitions and memorandums and met with the administrator of Phokwane Municipality, the mayor, the councillor and officials from the Department of Roads and Public Works, since November last year, but no answers have been forthcoming.”

They also complained that the steering committee consisted of councillors instead of community members.

A letter was addressed to Northern Cape Premier Zamani Saul, asking him to intervene in the matter.

The disgruntled group in Jan Kempdorp wanted the project to be suspended and a new recruitment process to be instituted.

The Office of the MEC for Roads and Public Works said earlier this week that they were unable to stop the project due to contractual obligations with beneficiaries and supplies “that cannot be tampered with”.

“The aim of the EPWP (Expanded Public Works) project is to improve the livelihoods of the community in Phokwane and any call to hamper the realisation of this goal is incomprehensible and cannot be allowed.”

The department added that all recruitment guidelines had been followed.

The spokesperson for the MEC for Roads and Public Works, Bongani Mcdonald Silingile, said the project entailed the patching of potholes and cleaning.

“The EPWP project was launched in October with 300 beneficiaries, 30 from each of the 10 wards in Phokwane Municipality. The Department of Roads and Public Works is providing funding for this project,” said Silingile.

He explained that the project was being implemented by the department and the Frances Baard District Municipality as the Phokwane Local Municipality had been dissolved at the time.

“There was no council at the Phokwane Municipality at the time that this project was implemented, so the Frances Baard District Municipality was responsible for the recruitment. Appointments were done based on the EPWP recruitment guidelines.”

Silingile added that the district municipality had appointed the steering committee under the political leadership of Phokwane Municipality and other stakeholders. Police spokesperson Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba said that Public Order Police members were monitoring the situation on the N18.

“The road has been opened and protesters were dispersed,” Ramatseba said.

He said that one suspect was arrested. “More arrests are expected soon.”

The Office of the Premier did not respond to media enquiries.