Applicant tidal wave

2013-08-19 00:00

THE massive number of applications from people wishing to be employed to drive and operate heavy machinery in the KZN Transport Department is delaying the hiring of staff to help speed up the road maintenance programme.

The huge volume of applications has led to senior officials being drafted in to sift through the applications before qualifying candidates are short-listed for interviews.

Transport Department head Sbu Gumbi said last week his department advertised 300 posts for driver operators in December 2012, but received about 17 000 applications.

“We had a challenge with the process of sifting through the applications,” Gumbi said.

Gumbi was explaining the reasons for the slow filling of vacant posts and the lower rate of road maintenance done on the province’s roads to the KZN legislature’s finance portfolio committee.

He added that the low rate of road maintenance was also due to the breakdown of machines such as graders as well as the grading of roads being affected by weather conditions.

Chief finance officer Wayne Evans said the 300 driver operators were among the critical posts identified as key to service delivery.

“We intended to fill [the vacancies], but the process took longer than expected. There will probably be savings in this financial year because we have not filled all those posts,” he said.

He was, however, adamant that the posts would be filled and the budget would be spent.

He added that his department was still in the process of restructuring their organogram.

“We completed the restructuring of management. We are restructuring the lower structure, but the process has been ongoing for a couple of years,” Evans added.

MEC Willies Mchunu said when the department’s organogram was revised, it was unfair of his department to undertake ambitious processes to fill all the posts because the actual process of recruitment does not allow that you target a number of applicants when massive numbers of applications are received. “We should have taken them in smaller chunks,” he said.

It is not the first time the department has been faced with way more than the expected number of applications.

The department was due to fill 90 vacancies for traffic officers last year, but it received more than 150 000 applications and then shortlisted 40 700.

Those who were shortlisted had to undergo a fitness test under scorching heat, a move that resulted in several deaths in Pietermaritzburg last December and establishment of a commission of inquiry this year.

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