SMMEs MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Business owners, from left to right standing, Cynthia Tshabalala (Siyahlutha Developers), Thembisa Ceke (Khumbeni Construction), Ncumisa Simayile (Ncurals Trading) and Nontuthuzelo Feni-Masala (Sandikazi General Trading) and (seated left) Boniswa Wakhe (Eyam Trading) and Nomfuneko Bojana (Mickey Mouse Trading) employ local residents to work on SANRAL projects in Whittlesea in the Eastern Cape.
SIX women in the Chris Hani District Municipality have created work for unemployed local community members through the construction of 15 kilometres of pedestrian walkways in the remote semi-rural town of Whittlesea.
The South African National Roads Agency Ltd (SANRAL) started construction in March this year and work is expected to come to an end in September this year. The project forms part of SANRAL’s community development initiative.
“It is interesting to see how this project is influencing change and development in the lives of individual SMMEs and their employees. Eighty-five general workers are employed by these SMMEs. The majority of them hadn’t been involved in civil engineering construction before,” said Lindelani Tsanwani, SANRAL Southern Region project manager.
The Whittlesea SMMEs Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) grading as a 1 CE. They hope to be upgraded to grade 3 CE/CEPE (civil engineering potentially emerging contractors) at the end of the project. The SMMEs are Ncurals Trading, Khumbeni Construction, Eyam Trading, Sandikazi General Trading, Siyahlutha Developers and Mickey Mouse Trading. They have been receiving skills development training under supervision by construction managers Inkanyiso Consulting.
The process involved adverts and clarification meetings between July and August 2014, after which prequalification assessments were conducted and 30 NQF Level 2 and 16 NQF Level 4 learners were selected to start training in September to November 2014.
In December last year, the tender process started with the construction management team compiling and distributing the tender documents to eight SMMEs. The procurement of SMMEs took place in December 2014. Seven SMMEs were awarded the contracts and started implementation of the project in March 2015.
“The training has included business skills, communication and financial skills. They are able to purchase their own material and have forged good relationships with local suppliers of aggregates, bitumen and plant equipment, which will assist them in future contracts,” Tsanwani said.
Like her friends, Ncumisa Simayile is not only making a difference in her own life but also in the lives of fellow community members. She is owner of Ncurals Trading.
“When my employees tell me how happy they are to work and afford to put food on the table it makes me cry,” said an emotional Simayile.
Before working on the SANRAL project, Simayile, a single mother of two children, survived by occasionally selling vegetables and goats as well as relying on her children’s child grant money.
Feni-Masala, a mother of two girls aged 13 and 9, previously ran her own catering business but she fell on financial hardship when clients did not pay on time. Her husband works as a labourer.
“It was difficult to pay school fees, debt was piling up and we struggled to provide for our children.
“When I started working on the SANRAL project, not only could I settle our debt and provide better for our children, but also help others who were in the same situation as me,” she said.
Nonthutuzelo’s goal is to get a CIDB 8.
Boniswa Wakhe, owner of Eyam Trading, is the breadwinner at home and provides for a family of ten. She shares a house with her two children, her parents, four brothers and one sister.
“There were times when my children would not have lunch for school, no school uniforms or school shoes to wear. Some days they missed school because there was no transport money but now things have changed,” Wakhe said.
She dreams of buying her own bakkie and a house someday, and wants to start saving for her children’s education.
“I want to do more construction work, increase my CIDB grading and tender for road construction projects,” said Wakhe.
New statistics released by SANRAL Southern Region also shows the value of conventional engineering and routine road maintenance contracts awarded to 625 SMMEs between April 2014 and March 2015 to be at R805 million, and 69.76% of beneficiaries were black-owned companies.
“SANRAL ensures the enhancement of labour and SMME utilisation by means of applying contract participation goals in all its contracts. This means that a pre-determined percentage of the main contractor’s total contract value must be utilised towards the sub-contracting of SMME’s and the employment and wages of labour. In SANRAL’s routine maintenance projects, typically between 60 and 80 % of the work is done by SMME’s and labour is employed from the local project area,” said Mbulelo Peterson regional manager of SANRAL Southern Region.