Covid-19 relief for struggling SA surveyors

A South Africa drone service provider has pledged R100,000 (about $5,800) to help professionals in the survey industry struggling to make it through the COVID-19 headwinds.

Announcing their commitment to help, Johannesburg-based Rocketmine Aerial and Data Solutions, which provides drone-based solutions to the survey and mapping, mining and industrial inspection sectors across the continent, said they were moved to act by their belief that no human being deserves to go hungry in any circumstances.

The money will go towards the upkeep of members of the Institute of Mining Surveyors of Southern Africa (IMSSA) who have been stuck on a rough patch while trying to survive the Coronavirus-induced lockdown in South Africa. The current leadership at the institute reached out via an SOS to various organisations, and Rocketmine responded.

In a letter to members announcing the bailout, IMSSA president Gaopaleloe Mokhitli thanked Rocketmine, who are one of the organisation’s traditional sponsors, for their largesse in these difficult times.

“It is with great privilege that I announce that Rocketmine has been generous enough to assist with funding to assist IMSSA members who have encountered difficulties during this pandemic,” said Mokhitli in her letter. “Members of IMSSA who have encountered hardship due to unemployment are requested to contact the IMSSA office via email.”

South Africa has been in various stages of lockdown since March 26, 2020 when President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared on national television to announce that the country had no other choice than to resort to lockdown measures to save lives and manage the spread of the Coronavirus.

The 440,000-strong workforce in the mining industry, most of which work at close-quarters underground, was among those immediately and directly impacted by the lockdown, as stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing kicked in. The big mining conglomerates employ thousands of men and women who would have to descend down mining shafts in crowded cages. Social distancing in these settings would have been impossible, what with locker rooms and bath facilities teeming with miners preparing for their shifts or cleaning up afterwards.

The majority of miners have since returned to work, according to the latest COVID-19 update from the Minerals Council South Africa. About 120,000 miners are still to return though, and among them are members of the IMSSA who were made redundant by the mine closures.

As the lockdown persisted – August will be the fifth consecutive month since the lockdown was effected – so did the challenge of meeting the daily basics like food provision and paying of crucial bills. Many people could not cope.

“While we’re not the largest company in our industry, we truly believe that no family should ever go physically hungry,” said Christopher Clarke, Managing Director at Rocketmine. “Even while COVID destroys many surveyors’ livelihoods – parents should always be able to feed their children. That’s why we have partnered with IMSSA to establish a Relief Fund, that will distribute food vouchers to deserving families in our Industry.

“We have committed R100,000 to the fund, and trust that other businesses, which are in a position to help, will contribute towards this worthy cause.”

Attending a United Nations Development Programme’s function to launch their findings and recommendations on the Socio-Economic Impact (SEI) of the Covid-19 study of South Africa on Wednesday, health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize reiterated his defence of the government’s decision to lock down the country when it did, and for the duration it has done until today – saying COVID-19 caught the world unawares and woefully unprepared.

“We had to save lives and secure livelihoods,” Dr Mkhize said. “The lockdown assisted us tremendously to keep infections lower than they would have been. COVID-19 was a disruptive force that showed the weakened structures of our economy and the lockdown worsened poverty, employment and inequality.”

South Africa are approaching 600,000 total cases of COVID-19; however, the country has just above 90,000 active cases countrywide, with more than 12,000 people having lost their battle against the disease.

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