Transformation to help grow SA infrastructure, SANRAL tells NAFBI conference


Transformation to help grow SA infrastructure, SANRAL tells NAFBI conference

Pretoria, 6 June 2024 – The South African national Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) says its transformation agenda is not aimed at destroying big construction companies but it is intended work together to lift small business along the journey.

This was a message by the General Manager for Marketing and Communications at SANRAL, Vusi Mona, during his address at the National Association For Building Industry (NAFBI) Stakeholder Engagement Forum currently underway at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Johannesburg.

The engagement is being held in partnership with the Big 5 Southern Africa Construct, which aims to engage stakeholders on various issues related to the state of infrastructure in South Africa and strengthening private sector partnerships with the public sector.

Mona refuted claims that SANRAL aims to undermine big construction firm through its transformation efforts. Instead, he said, it wants the big companies to uplift SMMEs in the industry in order to participate meaningfully on projects.

“We want to strengthen the big companies to get more business to help them grow and see them compete globally. But there is a condition that as they grow, they should lift other small companies as well,” he said.

NAFBI National President, Aubrey Tshalata, said the organisation has been leading transformation in the construction space for more than 20 years assisted by Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), Infrastructure South Africa (ISA) and SANRAL. As a result, it has launched an aggressive mentorship programme with about 120 mentors who are providing SMMEs with technical mentorship at construction sites.

“Many a times people are placed at construction sites with no one to assist them with technical mentorship so that they can deliver successfully on projects. It is for this reason that we have launched this programme. I want to commend SANRAL for outstanding support in the provision of mentorship. We have 44 mentors coaching well over 400 SMMEs on SANRAL sites alone,” said Tshalata.

Tshalata also relayed the challenge of the declining number of women-owned businesses in construction and said more needs to be done to address the issue.

Other key issues covered at the engagements were safety challenges on construction sites following the recent tragedies in George and KwaZulu-Natal were workers lost their lives due to compromised safety on construction sites.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events which occurred in George and KZN. It is something that could have been avoided considering could that we have existing professionals with the knowledge and technical know-how to address safety. It is for this reason that we will be hosting a summit to address the issue of Occupational Health and Safety on sites,” said Tshalata.

Lufuno Ratsiku, President of the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professionals (SACPCMP), warned against “deploying unqualified individuals to manage construction projects in our quest for transformation”.

“We need to ensure we have qualified people in the field to manage projects. It is not fair that the industry is open to anyone who feels they can do the job, unlike other industries where there is vetting. Medical practices should be left to medical professionals, the same should apply in construction,” said Ratsiku.

He said this can cause a situation where projects are started but never completed because finance get closed off somewhere in the pipeline.

The NAFBI event is underway until Thursday and aims to host fruitful conversation to grow the industry and the economy.