The value that SANRAL adds to South Africa stretches way beyond its professional management of Africa’s most sophisticated primary road network. Since its establishment in 1998, the agency has earned recognition as a true national asset that contributes to the broader South African society and invests in communities through training, job creation, entrepreneurial support and empowerment programmes.
One of the country’s most talked-about future challenges is the need for skilled and trained human resources. The National Development Plan (NDP) notes that “education, training and innovation are central to South Africa’s long-term prospects”.
Without these core elements, the country will struggle to eliminate poverty, reduce inequality and create a more just society. SANRAL focuses much of its developmental resources on education and training initiatives designed to improve the quality of maths and science teaching.
The latest results of global study Trends in International Mathematics and Science show that South Africa still ranks low in maths and science, despite major improvements in recent years. SANRAL’s response is to support education programmes at schools, focusing on training and upskilling the educators who teach maths and science.
Partnership with universities
Through its partnerships with universities, SANRAL sponsors programmes that help bridge the gap between high school and tertiary education. Scholarships are offered to deserving learners and many of them have the opportunity to continue their studies through the financial support provided by SANRAL.
For the financial year 2015/2016 we invested R2.99-million in scholarships for 196 high school learners, up from R2.37-million and 172 learners a year earlier. Bursaries awarded to students in the engineering disciplines help to create a pipeline of new graduates who will, in future, design, build and maintain the country’s physical infrastructure. In the same financial year, we invested R7.5-million in 122 university students compared to 105 the year before. Fourteen were for post-graduate studies.
SANRAL’s Training Academy in Port Elizabeth offers graduate students the practical experience required to be registered as professional engineers.
Within the public sector, SANRAL has set the standards on how to attract, retain and manage highly sought-after talent. Through its human resource strategy, it has put in place mentorships and coaching programmes that encourage innovation, knowledge-sharing and careerlong development. Higher education bursaries went to 32 staff members, of which 23 enrolled for post-graduate studies.
A recent climate survey conducted by an external company showed that more than 95% of employees who responded found their jobs interesting and rewarding.
SMMEs grow through SANRAL
This commitment to empowerment is also reflected in SANRAL’s management of construction and maintenance contracts across the country’s vast road network. Many small and medium enterprises have received their first business contracts through SANRAL.
The experience they gain working with established contractors enables them to grow their business, create jobs and plough money back into local communities. SMMEs earned R3.56-billion in the last financial year. Importantly, our contract participation goals (CPGs) saw the development of 1 004 black-owned companies individually contracted to perform work to the value of approximately R1.9m.
An example of a recent project that exceeded the agency’s CPGs is the patch and reseal of the R58 between Burgersdorp and Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape.
The minimum prescribed contract participation targets for this project were 4% labour maximisation and 8% SMME/Black Enterprise (BE) utilisation. We achieved a labour maximisation figure of 4.81% and a SMME/BE utilisation of 8.79%.
On this project 458 640 hours were worked – equivalent to 190 people receiving employment. SANRAL is a valuable national asset.
Our national roads agency is about far more than roads; it contributes to the country’s growth and prosperity through every one of its activities – from the very big to the seemingly small.
An opinion piece by Matete Matete, Non-Executive Director at the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL)