12 December 2012

South Africa: Public Works Supports the National School Build Programme

press release

The Honourable Minister of Public Works Mr Thulas Nxesi has pledged the support of his department and its commitment to work with the Basic Education Department and other stakeholders in rolling out the National School Build Programme. Minister Nxesi says in a very real sense the School Infrastructure Programme (SIP) 13: the National School Build Programme gives concrete expression to government's commitment to prioritise education.

He's been speaking at the launch of SIP 13: the National School Build Programme in Sandton, Gauteng. "Speaking personally, as someone who has spent many years in education, as a practicing teacher and as a trade unionist, I can only applaud the scale and ambition of SIP 13 which seeks to: replace inappropriate school buildings; address backlogs of schools and classrooms; provide basic services, as well as ensuring access to libraries, information and communications technology (ICT), laboratories and sports facilities," explained the Minister.

Minister Nxesi has revealed that while the building of safe and effective modern schools is an end in itself, SIP 13 forms part of a much larger national infrastructure roll-out plan which seeks to achieve a number of objectives, among them - to use infrastructure spending to drive inclusive economic growth and social development - while in turn driving job creation and skills development. Infrastructure development could also be channelled positively to lead the struggle against the triple evils of poverty, unemployment and inequality.

He says it's crucial to ensure that when infrastructure roll-out plans are implemented, the benefits do not simply end up in the coffers of the large construction companies or in the hands of 'tenderpreneurs'. "I would argue that the infrastructure roll-out is both a challenge and also constitutes a massive opportunity for transformation.

Let me explain. Challenges include working smarter, faster and in a coordinated way - between departments and between levels of government to get the job done. We have to tackle the issue of ineffective procurement processes, over-pricing and fraud and corruption - and we have to work with the construction sector to achieve this," clarified Minister Nxesi.

"In all that we do, we have to be clear that we are not simply building infrastructure for its own sake; that this is also a strategy for driving economic growth and social development, and that this includes job creation, skills development and empowerment of emerging and female contractors and professionals," the Minister remarked. He emphasised that if an efficient infrastructure roll-out can be attained - which goes hand-in-hand with empowerment and the transformation of the built environment - a win-win situation could be realised.

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