Communities play major role in two-year project that will improve their daily lives and enhance the local economy.
The South African National Roads Agency (SOC) Limited (SANRAL) has completed the construction of two village access roads that will ensure increased road safety and all-weather access at the R61 junction outside Port St Johns.
The project included the upgrading of a 3,24-km access track to a surfaced road – using mostly concrete due to the steep terrain – construction of an associated storm-water drainage system and speed calming humps in the Ndwalane and Caguba villages.
Not only will this provide an improved storm-water drainage system, but also safer access, thus ensuring less vehicle congestion and better mobility.
The project included the training of 10 local Small Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs).
During the project hand-over ceremony, the 10 SMMEs and 10 supervisors that received training on the project were awarded SAQA accredited NQF Level 3 & 4 certificates.
The two-year project created opportunities for 50% women-owned SMMEs, 30% youth-owned SMMEs and jobs for 100 local individuals, who received training that resulted in them receiving SAQA accredited NQF Level 2 certificates in road construction.
Twenty-five local SMMEs that did not qualify to be part of the construction project received training in contract management and tendering for construction contracts.
Following the completion of the project it is anticipated that the following Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) upgrades will take place: four Grade 1CEs to Grade 3CE, three Grade 2CEs to 4CE and three Grade 3 CEs to Grade 5CE Contractors.
Gcobani Socenywa, project manager for SANRAL Southern Region, said: “Now that the project has been completed it will provide safe, all-weather access for all road users, as well as community mobility through infrastructure upgrades and safety improvements. The economic spend on this project remains within the community.
“The upgrading of these two access roads was done by SMMEs and not SANRAL. The upgrade will increase the safety to the R61 junction. One of the primary objectives of the programme has been to develop and train local SMMEs in various aspects of road building.”
Caring about communities
Chief Zwelethu Fono said the community welcomed SANRAL when they announced the plans to upgrade the community access tracks.
“In other communities when SANRAL wants to deliver services, there can be disagreements amongst community members. We managed to sit down with them and work together. I have been to SANRAL meetings and learned about the social responsibility, and know that SANRAL, as well as the consulting engineers on the project, NKR Consulting Engineers, care about communities,” said Fono.
Councillor Moni Xolile, acting Mayor of the Port St Johns Local Municipality, said: “I am grateful that SANRAL has contracted a black-owned company like NKR Consulting Engineers to do the ground work to train the people. You did a good job. Allocating 50% of this project to women and providing them an opportunity in a male-dominated industry is phenomenal.”
Xolile encouraged SMMEs to grow the economy. “SMMEs should come up with solutions on how to guard their economy. They must reinvest in their companies. Building material is still being outsourced. We must make our own bricks, so that when we need bricks we source them locally from the area.
“We need to have our own machinery so that when local contractors get jobs they don’t have a hard time getting the equipment. The road was not built for SANRAL or NKR, it was built for the community. It is our asset; therefore, we must look after it.”
Sindiswa Ngaphu, owner of Isigingqi Construction, employed six people over the two-year period. Her projects included slurry work, building v-drains, stone pitching and casting concrete slabs.
Ngaphu, who lives in the Caguba Administrative Area, is a single mother of three. “I was unemployed for five years before this opportunity came along. This project has provided people with jobs and safer roads to use. Before, the roads were bad. People learnt new skills and jobs were created.”
Cwaba Zonger, owner of Fono Development Programme, employed 10 people on the project. His contract included earthworks, slurry, building kerbs, and v-drains. He said the project means a lot for the community.
“The area is laden with clay soil, when it rains we have had to leave our cars at home and walk to the tar road to hitchhike,” said Zonger.
Councillor Knowledge Fono of Ward 9 said the roads would ensure communities could connect quicker to each other and to the local building material supply store. He said this would extend the lifespan of residents’ vehicles.
“I am happy the roads will benefit the communities and that residents participated in the project. Residents will reach each other faster now that the roads are built,” said Fono.
Dr Mongezi Noah, SANRAL Southern Region community development specialist, said he was glad to see SMMEs reinvesting in their businesses.
“You find people who get a tender, but they go buy BMWs. Here, we find that the SMMEs procured their own machinery, LDV bakkies, concrete mixers and many more construction resources. The project has enhanced their road construction skills for the long term, beyond the N2 Wild Coast projects,” Noah said.
Community empowerment and development
Ten CIDB grade 1 to 3 SMMEs were appointed to work on the project and 100 individual jobs were created over the two-year period.
Community empowerment included training of local Public Liaison Committee (PLC) members and unqualified SMMEs on how to complete tender documents and in contract management skills.
Local businesses also received support from the project in various ways, such as providing catering services and the purchasing of supplies from local hardware stores.
The community also benefitted through the renovation and reconditioning of the Mkhanzini Community Hall, refurbishment of desks at Mkhanzini Primary School, upgrading of the driveway and storm-water management at Gungubele School as well as the planned shelter construction at Caguba.
Throughout the duration of the project there were regular PLC meetings, monthly technical and progress meetings, mentor and mentee meetings, as well as ad-hoc engagements as and when needed.
“The SMMEs foresee themselves maintaining SANRAL roads in this area. The certificates issued to the SMMEs also confirm that they are fully qualified on roads and will be able to use them to participate in future projects,” said Mbulelo Peterson, SANRAL Southern Region manager.