‘Public Works equipment could give skills to youth’

2014-10-10 00:00

A FORMER Public Works Department employee says the government could save millions of rands in repairs if equipment gathering dust in the department’s workshops was used.

The man, who asked not to be named as he still visits the workshops, said the equipment, which he claims is still functional, could also be used to train young people and give them skills.

However, Public Works spokesperson Mbulelo Baloyi disagreed. He said most of the original equipment was disposed of and that which remains is “static and old”. He added that a large portion of the workshops has been converted to office space.

Baloyi disputed that the decrease in the work done in-house had affected the department negatively, either in turnaround time or financially.

“A portion of the workshop had been considered for the training of disabled persons, but nothing has come of it,” he said.

The workshops in Prince Alfred Street were previously used by salaried government employees who were responsible for fixing and maintaining government buildings.

The ex-employee told The Witness that more than 20 people had been employed there.

From a once vibrant centre with lots of artisans, it had regressed to become almost a ghost centre, he said.

“In those workshops, we built doors, prepared our own timber. There were artisans, plumbers and painters. If there was a leak in a government building, we would be sent there and fix it within a short time,” he said.

“If the ceiling in the building had collapsed, we would be sent there and prepare our own timber to fix it.”

He said now almost every repair job is sent out to tender and most of the work is being done by contractors.

It was a shame that the workshops were allowed to go to ruin despite all the good work that could be done, he said.

“The machines are old, but they are still in full working condition. Employees took pride in looking after them.

“These machines could be used to deal with the skills shortage in the country. We have no artisans, and youngsters could be taken to those workshops and learn a trade,” he said.

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