SMMEs on the N2 Wild Coast Road project in the Eastern Cape upbeat about accessing finance to participate in the economy


SMMEs on the N2 Wild Coast Road project in the Eastern Cape upbeat about accessing finance to participate in the economy

      Caption: SMMEs were highly appreciative of the enterprise development opportunities presented by SANRAL

Lusikisiki, Eastern Cape, 3 April 2024: The South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) has made a commitment to provide small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) with adequate engineering tools to gain access into the construction sector.

The roads agency recently hosted an information session for SMMEs at the Lusikisiki Resource Centre in the Eastern Cape, where various sectors of the economy made presentations on the kinds of assistance available to SMMEs.

The assistance is available on the N2 Wild Coast Road project that stretches from the Gonubie Interchange outside East London, through the 112km greenfield portion near Port St Johns to the Mtamvuna River near Port Edward.

In line with SANRAL’s transformation agenda as outlined in its Horizon 2030 strategy, the session was intended to assist SMMEs with access to critical information by inviting financiers, the Department of Employment and Labour as well as plant manufacturer, Bell Equipment. This is meant to create a conducive environment for SMMEs on the Wild Coast to participate in all SANRAL projects.

“We have a situation where SMMEs have challenges with cash flow. I am happy to see the SMMEs happy. They understand that this was their session to find out how they can benefit from this collaboration,” said SANRAL’s District Office Manager, Nwabisa Gxumisa.
She emphasised SANRAL’s commitment to ensure the construction industry is transformed by creating opportunities through collaboration with economic drivers. “The plan was to complete Msikaba bridge in 2023 but due to delays, it will now only be completed in 2025. We are still going to have community development projects and access roads under the seven packages,” said Gxumisa.

The Department of Employment and Labour reiterated the importance of complying with the basic conditions of employment. Labour official Fezile Xhongo warned about the registration and clear remuneration packages for employees.

“Inspectors have every right to visit any business without obstruction, and businesses must answer all the questions asked. The way you remunerate your employees must be clearly outlined. For example, is it in terms of the minimum wage or is it determined by a bargaining council, as is the case with SANRAL? Your excuse cannot be that you did not know, when you can always ask your labour office,” he said.

Plant manufacturer Bell, a proudly South African company with a factory in Richards Bay, says SMMEs need yellow machinery, describing them as game changers in the industry.
Fortune Matsobane, Consultative Sales Advisor Executive at Bell said: “It would empower them to own the machinery, as it is capital investment. Bell is in a process to amend a Memorandum of Understanding with SANRAL and in the next month, we will have a revised approach on where and how the SMMEs can access these machines”.

A living example of this benefit is a woman who hires a yellow fleet to an established construction company. Nogolide Zokufa has been attending these sessions for years as she benefits from the interactions.

“I started with a bed-and-breakfast establishment in Flagstaff, but Bell opened my eyes through these sessions two years ago. Today I’ve hired a Tractor-Loader-Backhoe and an excavator out to a company that tendered for the N2WCR Package 5 between Msikaba and Mtentu bridges,” she said.

Standard Bank has opened its doors to small businesses to access funding for various banking needs as newcomers. Standard Bank representative Rebecca Mbalo advised on the availability of an enterprise development loan that has a limit of R1,5 million designed for SMMEs.

“Standard Bank is open to assist everyone irrespective of whether they are our clients or not. We can assist as long as you have a contract, even on the asset side. We have a credit appetite for SMMEs. The longer the contract, the better it is for SMMEs to repay,” said Mbalo.

SMMEs were eager to know if there were financial packages for first time business owners, and that there is equality when the Employment and Labour department enforces labour laws for small and large competing businesses.