May 18, 2004

Mbeki launches public works programme

President Thabo Mbeki launched the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) at Sikhunyane village in Limpopo in the former homeland of Gazankulu. The programme is part of government's comprehensive strategy to create jobs through labour intensive infrastructure projects that will use more people as the labour force than heavy machinery used in construction works. The Limpopo Government initiated the project to rehabilitate rural roads around the areas and named it Gundo Lashu, TshiVenda for "our victory". Gundo Lashu is one of the infrastructure programmes within EPWP, which aims to address the backlog of infrastructure such as roads and bridges in rural areas. The EPWP will ensure that marginalised communities participate and benefit from the economy, through the creation of jobs coupled with training and skills development for people to build the country's infrastructure. Over 200 people in the Sikhunyane community are already employed in the programme to construct roads and bridges making their village accessible and linked infrastructural to the outside world.

The national government has now teamed up with all stakeholders in implementing similar programmes countrywide. Minister Sigcau signed the EPWP Memorandum of Understanding with the provincial government, the Labour Department and Construction and the Education and Training Authority that will train unemployed people in construction. The President also unveiled the new logo that will become the symbol of the expanded public works programmes as government rolls out similar projects countrywide. (Bua News, Pretoria)

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