Nothing will derail Northern Cape Routine Road Maintenance projects

R470 million is allocated for Routine Road Maintenance (RRM) on South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) projects in the Northern Cape over the next three years. With 15 RRM projects spread across the province, there are massive opportunities for small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) to participate and benefit.

SANRAL recently met with the Northern Cape Progressive Business Forum (NCPBF), South African Network for Women in Transport (SANWIT) and Francis Baard Business Forum (FBBF) to address their concerns regarding barriers to entry, on SANRAL projects.

“They are our stakeholders and we welcomed the invitation to engage their leadership. We listened to their concerns and addressed these in accordance with SANRAL’s transformation policy, giving guidance on how to proceed. It was an amicable engagement and we look forward to working with all our stakeholders in delivering on our infrastructure development mandate. This engagement showed that constructive engagement to resolve conflict is possible when the appropriate platforms are used. Having said that, SANRAL will not progress in its mandate of service delivery if we are in reverse gear every time interest groups are unhappy with conditions related to project participation,” said Randall Cable, SANRAL Western Region Manager.

This echoes the sentiment of Transport Minister, Fikile Mbalula, when he visited SANRAL’s N2 Wild Coast Road project last month, reiterating that while SANRAL is open to engagement and negotiation with all relevant stakeholders, work will not be stopped by entities who have alternate agendas, while the bulk of people welcome infrastructure development projects.

Some of the concerns raised include access for women in construction, complex tender documents, exclusion of SMMEs in economic development opportunities and representation on the project liaison committee (PLC).

SANRAL recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), that prioritises development of SMMEs in the road construction industry.

“That MOU with SAFCEC is specifically geared to enable mentorship, development, capacity building and training of small contractors, giving them the skills and knowledge needed to access economic opportunities and participate profitably in road construction and maintenance projects,” explained Cable.

In response to the concerns raised about access to the PLC, the stakeholders were again given nomination forms and advised to nominate relevant parties that could represent their interests on the PLC, as this is the ultimate structure for oversight and transparency of SANRAL projects in the district. It was also emphasised that the members of the PLC are impartial and can have no stake in any of the road construction or maintenance projects. SANRAL is committed to constitute functional PLCs that serve in the best interest of all stakeholders.

SANRAL’s projects are guided by a commitment to SMME development, a 14-point plan that prioritises community engagement, a transformation policy that seeks to advance black business, and an overall strategy that is aligned to the government’s National Development Plan.