The South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited is giving young business owners a springboard through skills development and guaranteed employment opportunities in Mpondoland.
SANRAL’s community development and community access construction roads project – a spin-off programme in support of the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road (N2WCTR) – is slowly transforming the socio-economic landscape by letting the youth break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and inequality.
The SANRAL programmes are part of the community access road upgrading project for the N2 Wild Coast Highway in Alfred Nzo and OR Tambo District Municipalities.
The SANRAL integrated community development project includes 30 SMME construction businesses and new start-ups (CIDB levels 1 – 3) currently enrolled on SAQA and CETA-accredited training programmes (NQF levels 3 -5) at three learning centres in Mbizana, Lusikisiki and Port St. Johns.
The programme will also train an additional 330 individuals with civil engineering skills to help create a local labour force for the N2WCTR.
Nombali Hlongwe, like many youths in Mbizana, had a difficult start in life.
Nombali spoke about her life before the SANRAL scholarship.
“I was a former finance student of the Durban University of Technology,” she said. “A lack of financial resources forced me to drop out of studies. I then worked as a call centre agent for a South African cellular network in Durban. However, for personal reasons, I had to resign and return to my family home.”
Nombali, a single mother of a four-year-old son, leaves her home between 06:30 and 06:45 to walk to class to arrive on time at 08:00.
She lives with her parents, her son, grandmother and 12 other siblings in Mbizana’s Ward 23. Her dad, Sandile is a taxi owner and mom, Nofezile is a house wife, who loves to grow her own vegetables.
“When I heard about the opportunity to participate in SANRAL’s community road building and skills programme in Mbizana I knew this would be good for my future. It would also be an opportunity for me to make a difference in my community and help create jobs,” Nombali said.
After applying and being selected by SANRAL to participate in a two-year skills development programme, she founded new start-up company, Pumlani Construction.
She believes the SANRAL project is creating much needed work for the unemployed through skills development.
SANRAL’s training programme will give Nombali the qualification she could never afford. A year from now, she will receive a CETA accredited certificate in construction management, and the programme also includes several modules on business management which will help her to run a sustainable and profitable enterprise.
Nombali said: “We need jobs in this area. Most of the youth are unemployed, there are some who turn to alcohol abuse and using drugs because they have nothing better to do.”
Changing family lives
Other members of the Hlongwe family are also participating in the project. Nombali’s sisters hope to, one day, work in the construction industry too.
Nombali said: “My one sister is participating in a supervisory programme and my other sister will start with a foreman training programme. I am hopeful that this project will eliminate the unemployment in the area.”
The Hlongwe family is very hopeful and optimistic that through the construction projects, which SANRAL will roll out, the situation at home will change for the better.
“Nombali working in construction is going to change the situation at home. She can maybe now get me my dream house. These days there are more opportunities for women who want to work in the construction industry,” said Nofezile.
Sandile said he was glad roads were being upgraded.
“As a taxi owner, I am happy that Department of Roads and Public Works is upgrading the R61. For taxi owners, this mean that the roads we travel on will be in a better condition. I am also happy to see that jobs are being created for people in the area where there is so much poverty,” said Sandile.