- Disgruntled local companies have blocked trucks delivering personal protective equipment to schools in parts of the Eastern Cape
- The local companies said they were sidelined during the process which was unfair and not transparent
- SAPS had to intervene in the district as a local business forum stopped several trucks
Truckers carrying person protective equipment (PPE) to schools in parts of the Eastern Cape have been blocked from making the deliveries by unhappy local companies, who claim they have been sidelined in favour of businesses from outside the province.
Angie Motshekga and the Department of Basic Education are under pressure to deliver masks, sanitisers and other PPE gear in preparation for the return of Grade 7 and 12 learners to school on Monday, 8 June.
Learners were initially set to return on 1 June but schools did not open because many had not met the required health and safety requirements set out by the government.
The education department is now scrambling to get everything in order before Monday. However, deliveries have been stopped in parts of the province by small local companies claiming the government overlooked them when choosing suppliers.
Briefly.co.za reported that millions worth of PPE "disappeared" en route to KZN schools, hindering the progress of resuming the academic year.
The local companies have lashed out at the government and have also decided to intercept trucks delivering PPE gear and stop them from making the deliveries.
On Tuesday, three trucks were making deliveries in the OR Tambo district and were stopped by members of the King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) Business Forum near Shell Ultra City in Mthatha.
Similar incidents have been reported in the Alfred Nzo, Mnquma, Nyandeni, Komani, Port St Johns, Amathole and Chris districts around Eastern Cape.
Forum deputy chair Lungelo Mpongwana said that they wanted to be included in the project, but instead the work went to companies in KwaZulu-Natal. Mpongwana said:
"Even those main service providers bring their own people from outside the province to work as sub-contractors. We also have a right to benefit. We pay debts, bonds for houses and have to send children to school. We can't just watch. Why should all the money from the Eastern Cape go to other provinces?"
Mpongwana added that the members were unable to benefit from tenders from other provinces. SAPS in Mthatha intervened on Tuesday, taking the three trucks to a nearby military base where they were kept overnight.
In a meeting held with police on Wednesday morning, one of the forum members said the process of appointing service providers was unfair and not transparent. He said:
"We won't allow this. We are even prepared to die. We have children to send to school."
In a twist of events, provincial education spokesperson Loyiso Pulumani said MEC Fundile Gade met with local businesses and explained to them that 49 service providers from the district had been appointed to deliver PPE gear to schools.
"They were shocked to learn this. It seems some of those who were fighting were among those appointed."
In Port St Johns, business chamber secretary Andile Manitshana said they were seeking legal assistance to stop the appointed companies from continuing with the deliveries.
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