It was alleged by a concerned community member of Marapyane that road workers working under the 3km long construction project, are believed to be working without proper PPE’s to get the job done.
A number of community members, stretched out their concerns and frustration after a picture was circulating, showing workers without dust masks working on the site where dust was seen covering the area and construction trucks contributing to the dust.
More claims were brought forth by the public that when bypassing the site, there is no sign of mobile toilets, proper PPE’s drinking water, dust suppression and no safety officer on site to work to the benefit of the workers. It was sad to realise that other members of the community were blaming the workers and suggesting they use surgical masks, even though it is of general knowledge that surgical masks are not equipped to prevent dust from being inhaled through the use of them.
The councillor Nkgodi and the site clerk Seobane Moche, came to their defence and mentioned on how they have attended to the issue and found that the bypass road used for the construction trucks and motorists needs to be watered every morning and when necessary, to reduce the dust that might cause harm to the health of the workers working on site. Africa Newz reached out to both Nkgodi and Moche for comment.
Moche admitted to not having the experience in the field of construction as it’s his first time as site clerk but wants to make it clear he works for the people and fights for their benefit. When asked about the claims made by the public about not recognising proper PPEs for the health and safety of the workers, Moche instantly dismissed the claims to say there is indeed mobile toilets and water for the people and a site office which he advised the workers to use when the trucks are at work.
He added on to say on the day the picture was taken, the water truck was not ready and arrived late, the other construction workers said they work on a schedule and instead went ahead with work increasing the dust in the area. Moche was not clear on the dust mask matter instead said 120 workers were employed for the project and to his knowledge, workers from the two wards assigned to the site were given masks and the rest that were on site might have not had but believes they were given even though their work was done and were not supposed to be in that area.
He explained on the matter that the project has been put on hold pending the raised issue and they have agreed with the council that work will commence next week Wednesday and the plan is to have water trucks start and water the road before other contractors begin with their work. Although he did not reply as to whether or not the workers will be provided with more dust masks, he said community members that said they will come to the rescue and provide surgical masks instead of dust masks, they have not heard anything or seen anything from them.
Moche said people on social media are those with agendas and end up providing misleading information. He said on the day the picture was trending he went to the site with the construction agent and the safety officer to observe and that’s when he was threatened by an EFF candidate to stop working on the site and has reported the act to the police station.
Upon reaching Councillor Nkgodi for his comment, he also dismissed claims and said water and six mobile toilets are available to the workers and that masks were provided. He directed us to the right people in charge of what is transpiring on the site and we got hold of Vusi Sithole handling the programme. Sithole said he was not aware of the raised issue and that if it is indeed an issue, the project manager and the consultant are the ones who handle such compliances through a standard procedure by the contractor and that the contractor had to provide the masks and says he cannot confirm or deny anything he is not aware of.
During our conversations with Sithole, he said providing workers with dust masks is not a problem at all and at most times it is possible that workers are the ones who feel they are not comfortable with wearing masks even though they made them aware it is compulsory for workers to wear them. The councillor mentioned a meeting that will take place on Monday where issues regarding the site will be addressed and facts will be provided as to what is really happening.
However, Sithole says the department has no knowledge of the meeting and will get hold of the engineers to confirm claims and urged we request the public to not use such productive programmes to fight political agendas. Africa Newz is promised an update on the outcome of the meeting and a report will be made to keep concerned public on the loop.