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SECURITY PERSONNEL ASSUME CLEANERS’ DUTIES AT ECOT

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MBABANE – Security personnel at the Eswatini College of Technology (ECOT) have now also assumed the duties of cleaners.

This follows that the cleaning staff downed their tools yesterday after the institution’s administration failed to provide them with personal protective equipment (PPE) for cleaning. The staff members said they had been working for exactly three years without protective clothing and had since stopped executing their duties at the institution. In this case, their PPE is safety shoes, gloves and overalls. The downing of tools by ECOT staff came after students last week delivered a petition with nine demands, including that the institution needed to be reopened for classes in seven days.

Concerns

Meanwhile, in an article published by this publication, the staff at ECOT also raised their concerns and shared what they felt contributed to the collapse of the college. The staff, which also included lecturers and support staff, said things were never done by the book at the college. “We are never paid on time; we are treated like poor helpers. No one from the administration ever bothers about us unless we protest or embark on a go-slow,” said one staff member. Yesterday, the staff at ECOT downed their tools and demanded the PPE. The workers found at the college were seen walking around aimlessly while the security team took over their duties. “We are not going to work until we have the required uniform. We have been patient with the college and use worn-out PPE to execute our duties. We cannot do that anymore,” said one of the staff members in the Domestic Department. Another said the way things were at the college they needed to be heavily protected because the institution was a health hazard.
“In every room you clean, there is leakage so we need to be fully protected. We are surprised that they are making the security team work because they feel like they do not need PPE,” said another staff member.

Washing

Indeed, the security personnel, comprising of two females and one male, were found at the college mopping and washing cleaning buckets as they had finished the morning cleaning shift. When interviewed, one of the security team members said they were told to clean and they did as told by their line managers. “I got an instruction to mop certain floors and pathways. I left the guard house and executed the instructions given to me,” said the member. Another staff member said a number of things needed to be sorted out before the college could reopen. “The administration knows what to do,” said the staff member. Worth noting was that even though the college was abuzz with activities from lecturers and meetings, the principal, Nomcebo Nhlengetfwa could not be reached for comment. One of the lecturers found at the college  said they had come for a meeting that had been called by the principal. At the time of the interview, the lecturer said he had no idea what the meeting was about. “I have just arrived, the agenda is not known yet but we were called here and we are yet to deliberate on it,” said the lecturer on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, the domestic staff at the college alleged that the Ministry of Education and Training sent their own staff from last Thursday till Monday. The staff was sent to help since they had their own PPE. “They invalidated our concerns and called staff from the ministry to help. Upon seeing the situation here, the staff went back and stopped helping this side,” said one domestic staff member. The Principal Secretary (PS) Bhekithemba Gama confirmed the matter and said they sent some of their domestic staff to help at ECOT.

Ministry

“The issue of having cleaners from the ministry was necessitated by the fact that the cleaners at ECOT had no PPE, yet we needed a certain office cleaned for immediate occupation by an officer from the ministry,” Gama said. In addition, he said they were still working on procuring the PPE for the domestic staff at ECOT. “The process of procuring the PPE is ongoing. The college had an insufficient budget and we suggested reallocation so that we can be in a position to purchase the needed equipment,” said Gama. Previously, the PS had acknowledged that the situation at ECOT was not an ideal one but assured students that they were working around the clock to solve the state of affairs at the college.

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