Transformation rolling on

Transforming the construction industry is a major thrust of SANRAL. The country-wide consultation on the draft transformation policy has been concluded, implementation of those sections that were generally supported has begun, the policy is now final with just some clauses requiring ministerial and cabinet approval.

But implementation of those sections that were generally supported has started. The various tender documents are being revised to give effect to the Transformation Policy.

Thus the market has been segmented to make for a more equitable approach – construction companies with CIDB grades 1-4, those with 5-7 and 8 & 9 compete in different sections of the contract market. Entry-level work packages (sub-contract) already normally go to those with CIDB grades 1 and 2.

There were two holdups in implementation, though.

One was the need to rework the evaluation system to ensure compliance with Treasury prescripts. This has meant a slow-down in awarding contracts, which had an impact on the broader construction industry.

The roll-out of some fifty projects has started, but these are in the design phase and construction will obviously start later than originally planned. The awarding of tenders has also resumed but the fact of the matter is simply that the effect of this delay will be felt for some time into the future

The second hurdle to overcome had a more serious effect. At times SANRAL’s road building operations countrywide came to a virtual standstill. This was due to the demands by so-called business forums which would just come onto a construction site, demanding 30% of the contract value but refusing to go through the proper prescribing procurement processes.

These “forums” remain an on-going risk. The route to counter this is to have more intensive stakeholder engagement with people and institutions in the affected areas, and engage the main contractor, subcontractors via the project liaison committee and the implementation of the principles of the 14-point plan.

It is only when all of this has failed that law enforcement authorities would be engaged.

Transformation does not simply mean that 30% of a contract value must go to the formerly disadvantaged without proper procurement processes being followed. It also means that the roads agency has to step in – to ensure there is open, equal and fair access, plus inclusivity. Classroom teaching and practical work on the ground are part of the approach. To prepare and guide the new small contractors to be able to execute the required tasks to fulfil the contract.

There is also a transformation desk to deal with all upcoming problems, as well as partnership agreements with various service providers for equipment, finance mentorship who can assist where SANRAL does not have the capacity.

The roads agency’s role in transformation has meant that more opportunities have to be provided. Support systems have to be in place to prepare, guide and mentor the new entrants into a highly competitive industry!