Beach cleaners go AWOL, 'fire themselves' in Port Elizabeth
Only 14 out of 200 temporary workers turned up for duty to clean Port Elizabeth’s beaches at the start of the festive season.
The 200 Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) recruits were hired to ensure the city’s beachfront was spotless for the influx of holidaymakers.
This as the municipality’s permanent staff have, over the years, either taken annual leave or not pitched up for work during the summer season.
But a day after the annual opening-of-season event at Hobie Beach on December 16 – where thousands of revellers packed the beach for the fireworks display and performances by popular DJs Prince Kaybee and Superman – only four temporary workers turned up at the southern beaches to clean up the mess, and a total of 10 turned up at the Wells Estate, Bluewater Bay and Brighton beaches.
The municipality’s public health department was forced to use backup recruits who were waiting in the wings in case those who had been hired absconded.
The 200 casual workers were recruited from wards closest to the beaches, with the project expected to run until January 31 at a cost of R2.9m.
Municipal spokesperson Mthubanzi Mniki said the city’s contingency plan had then kicked in and new recruits had been hired.
"The EPWP department had to check the list of people on the database and screen them. We had to look for middle-aged people who are serious about working and making money because most of those who absconded are youths.
"We had to rehire new people immediately.
"The 186 who absconded fired themselves, so we had to get more people to have 100 at the southern beaches, which are Humewood, Hobie and Kings Beach, and 100 for the Wells Estate, Brighton and Bluewater Bay beaches,” Mniki said.