Partnerships with local communities facilitates smooth running of projects and creates awareness of what the agency offers.
Work with the people for the people. This basic principle is serving the South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) well and it intends expanding it to all its projects.
Thus, the establishment of a well-functioning Project Liaison Committee (PLC) and partnership with local municipalities has played a critical role in managing challenges on the R573 Moloto Road project.
It is one of South Africa’s busiest and most important economic routes, connecting Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
The project involves closing off dangerous illegal accesses, reducing conflict movement on service roads, installing and replacing street lights, and moving informal traders to safer areas.
In the Limpopo section, SANRAL and the local municipalities identified possible stakeholders to form a Project Liaison Committee (PLC).
The identified stakeholders were contacted and asked to each convene meetings with their respective constituents and formally nominate individuals to sit on the PLC.
This PLC comprises of 12 organisations and forums including the Business Chamber, Ephraim Mogale Local Municipality, Nafcoc, representatives of formal agricultural forums, (AFASA and LFU), women and youth organisations, the safety forum, a representative from the traditional authority, ward representatives, the municipality, SANRAL, the appointed contractor and engineer.
The PLC has also been instrumental in creating some 66 jobs for locals in the Ephraim Mogale Local Municipality
The PLC creates a platform for liaison, execution of work, sub-contracting and the facilitation of employment, especially of local community members.
Local interests maintained
This is the platform through which elected officers can ensure that the interests of the local community are looked after while SANRAL achieves its operational goals.
Speaking about the importance of partnering with the community, Lawrence Chauke, SANRAL project manager, said: “The PLC must be a conduit to receive and channel community needs. It is through these committees that communities can obtain information about the opportunities that SANRAL provides for the youth through bursaries, scholarships, in-training programmes and internships, as well as information about business opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
“The municipality is represented on the PLC through the office of Local Economic Development (LED) and the office of the MMC (Member of Mayoral Committee) for Infrastructure who has been mandated to give political leadership at a higher level and support SANRAL in ensuring that the implementation of the project runs smoothly,” he continued.
The MMC and ward councillors, who are ex-officio members of the committee, are also the link between SANRAL and the executive council of the municipality.
They have the advantage of easily addressing issues that can affect the project, especially when it comes to managing day-to-day problems on site.
Chauke said: “The biggest challenge is to get the right people who will execute the mandate of their constituents properly and understand the objectives of the project.
“It is also important to ensure that all relevant stakeholders are represented on the PLC, thus ensuring that the interest of the various sectors within the jurisdiction of the project are well represented.”