Pretoria, 1 May 2022 – As part of its ongoing efforts to build relationships with key stakeholders that are affected by its road construction projects, the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) has fostered a relationship with the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) to work together with traditional leaders and benefit rural communities.

“Contralesa is a very important stakeholder to us and we regard our engagement with yourselves as very critical to our mandate. We are charged with planning, building and maintaining national roads. Some of the roads that form part of the SANRAL network (and we are responsible for over 22 000km of the road network) traverse some of the land over which you are custodians. There is, therefore, no way we can execute on our mandate without working with yourselves,” said Vusi Mona, SANRAL’s General Manager for Communications.

He was speaking at a gala dinner hosted by SANRAL on Friday in Kempton Park, Johannesburg.

The start of a formal relationship between SANRAL and Contralesa started when Contralesa’s General Secretary Zolani Mkiva approached SANRAL in 2018. “Tonight’s engagement can be traced to the seed that was planted in 2018. We thank Contralesa for having the foresight and presence of mind back then to assign Umntwane Nkosi Mkiva to reach out to SANRAL. Here we are tonight in what we believe will be a meaningful and collaborative journey between Contralesa and SANRAL.” “This relationship must graduate to a relationship that is empowering in nature. We will not be fulfilled if our relationship only stops at gala dinners; this relationship must be economically empowering. When we build a road, that project must have an impact on that community and it must fulfil that community’s needs. As we build our national roads, we always ensure that there will be offshoots from our projects. For example, we may have adjacent roads to the national highways that will be constructed by the local communities, or sometimes the road may be a conduit to travel to schools, clinics or other government services,” said Mona.

One of the key decisions that SANRAL made over the past few years is to involve communities on its road infrastructure projects. This decision was motivated by the intent to uplift community members – particularly those in rural areas – who live around its projects. The key motivation is for rural communities to participate meaningfully in the construction of these roads.

Two examples of major projects that SANRAL has invested in that traverse rural and urban areas are the N2 Wild Coast Road Project in the Eastern Cape Province and the Moloto Road project, which traverses the three provinces of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo. These projects connect the country’s rural paths to urban centres, and at the same time stimulate economic development within rural economies.

The gala dinner with Contralesa was also a fitting occasion to celebrate its 36th year in existence. Since its formation in 1987, Contralesa has continued to be the voice of rural communities and has always sought for means to work with society to benefit those communities.