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Road, railway linking Djibouti to Addis Ababa is blocked: Ethiopian official
28 July 2021, 11:00 AM

The president of Ethiopia’s Somali region said on Wednesday a vital road and rail trade artery linking the landlocked capital of Addis Ababa to the seaport of Djibouti was blocked.

The majority of goods entering Ethiopia, a country of around 110 million people, are transported via that corridor.

Reuters could not independently verify the reported blockage. The Ethiopian prime minister’s office and authorities in Djibouti could not immediately be reached for comment.

Somali region President Mustafa Muhumed Omer said the road and rail had been blocked by local youth protesting against an attack on Saturday.

His government said on Tuesday that militia from the neighbouring region of Afar had attacked and looted a town, the latest flare-up in a local boundary dispute that adds to high tensions in the Horn of Africa nation.

“We are working to open the Djibouti rail and road today,” Omer told Reuters in a text message. “Discussing with the youth and people,” he added.

Scholar
Eastern Cape forging ahead with closure of dysfunctional schools
28 July 2021, 10:43 AM

The Eastern Cape government is forging ahead with the closure of dysfunctional schools. More than one thousand non-viable schools across the province will be affected.

The program is meant to ensure the augmentation of the limited state resources, for the benefit of every learner in the province. The communities of the affected schools have been given 30 days to make submissions.

MEC for education Fundile Gade says the merging of schools will improve the overall quality of education in the province.

“Unviable, dysfunctional schools in any system are a nerve because they are part of the dysfunctionality of the entire system but the intention is not to close them. The intention is to get a sense of what then becomes a broader view of the communities that are being served and how do you save government unnecessary expenditure out of those institutions that are dysfunctional from that one thousand already about 400 of them are likely to be re-purposed.”

SA ready to reopen for new term: Minister Motshekga

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga said the education sector is ready to reopen schools this past Monday. She was addressing the media in Pretoria on Saturday on the basic education sector’s response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Motshekga says although the sector is ready to reopen schools, President Cyril Ramaphosa has the final say.

Motshekga also gave an update on the vandalised schools during the recent unrest in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

She says the KZN Education Department submitted a list of schools that have been vandalised.

Motshekga says the education sector suffered around R300 million in damages.

Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga media briefing

Funeral industry struggling to get raw materials to make coffins due to recent violence
28 July 2021, 9:11 AM

The funeral and burial industry says it is experiencing problems in acquiring the raw material used to make the coffins from KwaZulu-Natal after the recent violence and looting in the province disrupted the supply chain.

The industry says it is struggling to secure coffins for burial and space to keep bodies at mortuaries. It has also raised concerns about the high number of people that are gathering at funerals saying there should be greater regulation.

Deputy President of the National Funeral Directors’ Association, Doctor Lawrence Konyana says the recent unrest has added to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Unfortunately the events of the past weeks of the looting and vandalism created a big problem where we are not able to get stock of coffins, most of the funeral parlours ran out of coffins during that time. Some had their businesses vandalised and looted which worsened the crisis. And for the past 2 to 3 weeks we’ve seen an increase in the number of deaths, and most of us are operating at capacity and with the shortage of coffins. It creates a real problem.”

Appeal for government help

The country’s burial industry has pleaded with government to expedite relief for funeral parlours that were looted and vandalised during the recent violent unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The unrest has put additional pressure on an industry that is already battling to cope amid an escalation in deaths in the country due to COVID-19. One of the hardest hit is the Icebolethu Funeral group in KwaZulu-Natal which lost millions of rand after 22 of its branches were torched.

Funeral parlours massively affected by recent looting:

The group’s CEO, Nomfundo Mcoyi, “We would like to see the Department of Labour assisting us to be able to pay full salaries to our staff as the funds that we have are not enough. And also assist where other families cannot afford to do a funeral, we’ve seen in Phoenix more than 300 people are sitting at mortuaries, those families they don’t have money or insurance. They need to be assisted.”

The Funeral Federation of South African says many of these businesses may be forced to close down.

Chairperson of the Federation John Storom, “And for somebody like that could essentially mean the end of a business, the end of a livelihood and there is a number of things that could be required. Government needs to look at how they can step in and assist small funeral undertakers.”

Truck
Collision between two heavy vehicles in the Karoo leaves two dead
28 July 2021, 8:40 AM

Two people have been killed in a collision between two heavy vehicles between Beaufort West and Leeu Gamka in the Karoo.

Western Cape Traffic spokesperson Jandre Bakker says rescue teams are still going through the wreckage of one vehicles that had burnt out following the collision which happened last night. Bakker says the traffic is now being directed in both directions past the scene, after the highway was closed.

“The traffic is however slowly flowing in both directions as vehicles are directed past the scene on the sides of the road while the scene is being cleared. One heavy vehicle was a vehicle carrier so the scene may take some time to fully clear, we ask motorists to remain patient in the area and to factor in additional travel time.”

POPCRU describes government’s wage increase offer as an insult to its members
28 July 2021, 7:02 AM

The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) has described government’s wage increase offer of 1.5%  and the monthly cash allowance of R1 695 for public servants as an insult to its members who are frontline workers.

The new wage agreement was signed on Monday by the majority of unions represented in the Public Coordinating Bargaining Council.

Other unions which have yet to sign on the wage offer include NEHAWU and SAPU prompting concerns of possible strike action. POPCRU spokesperson Richard Mamabolo explains some of their objections to the wage deal.

“The first thing that our members raised was the fact that the offer did not touch on baseline salaries, it did not improve the notches that they are in. Secondly, all this gratuity money that is being proposed does not impact on the pensions of members.”

Public Sector Unions agree to sign government’s wage offer of 1.5%:

Meanwhile, the Public Service Department has expressed gratitude to public sector unions that have signed the draft wage agreement which will be back-dated to the beginning of this month.

They include the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union, the National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa and the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa.

Deputy Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga says public servants are at the forefront of making sure people do not contract the COVID-19 virus.

“Our public servants are in the forefront of ensuring that people do not contract the virus and the pandemic does not affect everybody. If it was according to that we would have given them a lot of money but it is also real that nobody had budgeted for this pandemic and therefore the resources are not in abundance. We want to appreciate and thank the unions for acknowledging and taking into account the challenges that the country is facing and therefore being patriotic and accepting the offer that is on the table.”

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