Tshepo Mmusi
Klerksdorp, Jouberton Township
21 May 2020

Last week when the state president announced that the economy should be opened for people’s livelihoods to be restored and the economy should be viable again that was music to the ears of many people. He further announced that many parts of South Africa will go to stage 3 of the lock down, and that will mean relaxation of certain regulations.

After that announcement we saw many people returning to work and that included construction workers in our area in Klerksdorp. It’s a good thing that people should earn a living and that their lives should get back to normal. The president said people should go back to work with CAUTION but it looks like caution apply to certain sectors. In the retail sector employees are subjected to safety measures and are provided with PPE, and their managers and supervisors ensure that they comply with safety regulations. In my regular observation, I have noticed that the construction workers have also returned to work. I refer to big registered companies and small and medium enterprises whereby people engage in small projects like building of houses etc. I could not help but notice that workers were working without wearing their safety protective face masks. One begins to wonder if they are not provided with by their employers, or if they choose not to wear them because wearing PPE is a basic component of the construction occupational health and safety regulations.

Workers in the road construction site in extension 24 were working as a team working without wearing safety masks and I spotted one house construction in Extension 17 where its workers did not wear safety masks either. The question that must be asked is who should be the referee to guard against foul play and institute penalties on this regard? A worrying factor is that these are the ordinary members of our communities who can easily contract the virus and infect their immediate family members and their friends. The government needs a full proof plan to can monitor the extent of regulations compliance and have penalties in place for violations. If people need more training they should be given training, if they should be provided with PPE then they be given it and be monitored closely. North West province is one of the provinces that is likely to be placed in level 3 of lock down and incidents such as these should be looked at very carefully. Other provinces such as Kwa Zulu Natal with high levels of Covid 19 infections and deaths are eagerly and abruptly announcing that they are ready to move to level 3 of lockdown and to open the economy. They are not anywhere ready for that. A lot still needs to be done in as far as lockdown is concerned…