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​JOBURG Water hosted a training course for contractors working on its Soweto Infrastructure Upgrade, to help them get work when the contracts end.
IT is well known that the country is in desperate need of artisans, and in helping attempts to fill this gap, Joburg Water hosted a four-week skills training coursein plumbing and other fields.

EddieEddie Mokgethi studied plumbingCertificates were awarded to the handful of over-joyed participants who completed the course, on Friday 9, February at the Dube Bowling Club in Soweto.

They were allcontract workers involved with the Soweto Infrastructure Upgrade project, an initiative of Joburg Water.It is aimed at replacing ageing water infrastructure in the townships, including leaking, old pipelines; installing prepaid metres, checking levy compliance and retrofitting.

A great number of them were family men in their 40s who did not have their matrics;a few were young men in their 20s who were not able to attend tertiary education. They wereover the moon to finallyreceive certificates with their names on them.

But it was not only that thought that got them excited; they also had peace of mind knowing that they would have a better chance of getting decent jobs long after their contracts with Joburg Water werefinished. There were 48 of them in total, chosen from about 500 workers involved in the project.

Among those who benefited from the four-week skills training course was Eddie Mokgethi, a resident of Central Western Jababvu. Mokgethi studied plumbing, and said the certificate would open doors for future employment opportunities.

Upgrading water infrastructure in SowetoUpgrading water infrastructure in Soweto“I am happy that now I have something to show when I apply for a job. I can also start my own business becauseI am equipped with the knowledge and skills for the job,” he said.

Another beneficiary was Lucky Zikalala, who hails from White City. He said he and a colleague planned to start their own company soon after their contracts finished. He learned project management.

“We know how to do the job. Why must we wait for a contractor to employ us when we can do it ourselves? We just need to register our company. After doing that, then we can start looking for business opportunities in and outside Joburg,” said Zikalala.

He said the certificates would bolster their creditability in the eyes of customers. “People will believe is us because we have qualifications to prove our competence.”

Thabo Molapo, who also studied plumbing, said:“I was worried that my contract was coming to an end very soon, but not anymore. Now I can apply for a formal job in any construction company.”

Infrastructure upgrade
The Soweto Infrastructure Upgrade was started in 2003 with the aim of replacing ageing water infrastructure, which was costing Joburg Water millions of rands. Before the project started, many households connected water illegally, did not pay levies, and volumes of water were wasted through leaking pipes.

Roginal MusondaRoginal Musonda: Helping small contractors stand on their feetSpeaking on the day, Roginal Musonda, the technical manager at Joburg Water, said the main objective of the skills training programme was to enable workers to stand on their own feet. “These skills will produce entrepreneurs out of them; they do not have to rely on anyone.

“When we appointed contractors and consultants to carry out this project we made it clear that we wanted the community to be employed, and the local [small, medium and micro enterprises] as well. Our duty is this regard was to mentor and supervise them throughout the project as they did not have the skills to do the job,” said Musonda.

The Soweto project improved annual revenue by R180-million between 2003 and 2008, according to Musonda. It was suspended in 2008. “People started vandalising metres and erecting illegal connections. This cost Joburg Water millions.”

Following the loss in revenue, the project resumed in 2010, employing more than 500 workers from the community of Soweto through the Expanded Public Works Programme, the EPWP. They were given skills training relevant to the job, including plumbing and project management.

The upgrade is continuing, including in Mofolo, White City,Moroka, Dube and Rockville.Since it was resumed, Joburg Water’s annual revenue had risen by R150-million, reported Musonda.