No water means no service: Hundreds turned away at Gqeberha labour office

The department advised people to visit the Kariega branch or use their online services

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UIF applicants were turned away from the Department of Labour in Gqeberha because the office has had no water for about a week. Photo: Mkhuseli Sizani

  • UIF applicants were turned away from the Department of Labour in Gqeberha because the office has had no water for about a week.
  • The office has been operating with limited services since last week and was closed indefinitely on Thursday.
  • Many applicants say they had to borrow money to travel to the office more than once this week.
  • Water supply in the city is under severe strain.
  • The Department asked applicants to visit the Kariega branch or use its online services.

Many Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) applicants have been turned away at the labour department in Gqeberha. The office has been without water for about a week, forcing officials to suspend services.

On Thursday morning, about 100 applicants were seen waiting outside, some from 5am. Officials came out to tell them that the water problem was not yet resolved and would remain closed until further notice. Those submitting new applications were sent home while staff wrote down the details of people wanting to check on the status of their applications.

Mihlali Zenzile, 27, from Motherwell NU29 said only 150 people were served last Friday when she first came for assistance. “People suggested that they won’t use the toilets and they will make use of sanitisers. But the officials said after taking their lunch they need to use the toilet. Dozens of us were turned away,” she said.

Zenzile lost her job as a cashier in 2018 and has been trying to submit the required work documents for her application since then. It was the third time in a week that Zenzile joined the queue but was not helped. “This is unfair. I spend R38 on transport every day. Going to Kariega would be a waste of time because that branch is always full and it will cost me double for transport,” she said.

Pinkie Nkohla from Motherwell lost her job in April. “It’s been hard to make a living. I am struggling even to make a lunch box for my child to creche.

“Since [last] Friday I have been turned away. To come here I had to borrow a R40 taxi fare from my neighbours with 50% interest, hoping to get my UIF. When this office reopens it will be another struggle to get help because this place is always full,” she said.

However, the department said it is also concerned about the disruption of the services due to the water supply challenges in Nelson Mandela Bay.

Chief Director for Provincial Operations Nomfundo Douw-Jack said, “Health and Safety remains the core business in protecting both the employees and clients. The Labour Centre will remain closed until the matter is resolved.”

She advised people to visit the Kariega branch or use their online services.

Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said water supply in the city is under strain, particularly from Driftsands reservoir.

Ziphozihle Josefu, the provincial department’s spokesperson did not respond to our questions regarding the lack of water tanks or other measures to reopen its offices.

TOPICS:  Labour Nelson Mandela Bay water Crisis Unemployment

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