Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has called on South Africans to embrace Cuban engineers who are in the country to help resolve the water infrastructure problems.
According to EWN, at least 24 engineers were imported from the North American country to transfer skills and knowledge, and to assist government’s efforts on water delivery.
Sisulu expressed confidence in the engineers, as she welcomed them into the country on Thursday. They were set to be in the country for the next three years.
One of the engineers Ramón B Vega Laugart has been working in the hydraulic sector since 1980, according to Times Live.
His CV stated that he graduated in civil engineering at the Universidad de Oriente in Cuba.
Good relationship with local teams
Vega Laugart specialised in hydraulic engineering at the University of Belgrade and has a Master of Science degree from the University of Havana.
“I have practical professional experience in the activities of construction, projects, operation and maintenance of hydraulic works: dams, pumping stations, large water pipelines, canals, transfer schemes, water treatment works, wastewater treatment work, wastewater systems and small hydroelectric power-plants,” he was quoted as saying.
He also has good relationships with local teams.
“I worked in the SA department of water and sanitation from February 2015 to June 2018 and rejoined the department from August 2020 to date, using the English language without any difficulty and with good communication with all my South African colleagues,” he said.
Locally trained engineers
Last week South Africans questioned if there were not enough skills in the country, for the ministry to seek assistance from Cuba.
ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba and AfriForum protested against the appointment of the Cuban engineers.
According to IOL, Mashaba condemned the government, saying those who made such a decision had ignored locally trained and unemployed engineers.
Minister Sisulu says the South African can’t find suitable Engineers, and that Cubans Engineers are disciplined.
What an insult to our world respected South African Engineering Industry!@Newzroom405 pic.twitter.com/JGewt9IKo3
— Herman Mashaba (@HermanMashaba) April 23, 2021
Mashaba said in doing so, the government had added insult to injury with R400 million already spent on importing Cuban doctors to combat the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa.
Ticking time bomb
But Sisulu in her defence said: “The core objective of the agreement is to second Cuban engineers in infrastructure maintenance and operation skills throughout the water value chain from source to tap, with the majority being seconded at water/river clusters and at municipalities to provide training and build capacity to SA candidate engineers and artisans in all the identified municipalities.”
She said water was a ticking time bomb for South Africa.
“Cuba has had similar challenges we are facing as a country. They have overcome them and the engineers are here to assist us. They will teach and show us how to overcome these challenges,” she said.
Sisulu maintained that the Cuban engineers were not in South Africa to take any jobs.
Picture: Cape Town etc gallery