THE SA National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL) held a round table engagement with the South African Women in Construction (SAWIC) on June 7 to deliberate on how the roads agency can further advance interests of women in the construction industry.
Held at the SANRAL regional office in Baywest, Port Elizabeth, the engagement was attended by SAWIC’s president, Kile Mteto, and SAWIC Eastern Cape chapter chairperson, Phumeza Kate, accompanied by a group of SAWIC members who recently completed a training programme with SANRAL.
Deliberations were around key challenges faced by women in construction and related industries and how SANRAL and its empowerment partners could further assist to advance their interests.
The group of 40 SAWIC women, who received their certificates during the session, undertook a two-week accredited training programme in construction management, organised by SANRAL southern region SMME unit coordinator, Vanda Nqunqa, to empower them to better manage their construction businesses.
“The training programme came after we identified common challenges faced by SMMEs on SANRAL projects,” said Nqunqa.
SANRAL’s stakeholder relations coordinator for the southern region, Welekazi Ndika, said that this was the first step towards a long and mutually beneficial relationship.
She outlined construction projects to be undertaken by SANRAL in the province in the next three financial years in which female-owned businesses would partake.
Ndika emphasised the road agency’s transformation policy, which aims at ensuring participation of marginalised groups in opportunities created by SANRAL.
“It is very critical that SANRAL’s procurement and supply chain policies be transformation friendly to ensure that our transformation objectives are fulfilled. Our focus should no longer be only on the 30% subcontracting to SMMEs.
“We should push for 51% black ownership in joint ventures on our projects to ensure tangible growth and transformation,” urged Ndika.
SANRAL’s empowerment partners: Bell Equipment, Barloworld Equipment, Pilot Crushtec and Purple Sunshine, were in attendance to highlight the services the group can benefit from, as well as their partnership with SANRAL which will grant emerging contractors access to plant equipment and mentorship.
SANRAL’s community development specialist, Dr Mongezi Noah, urged the members to broaden their participation in opportunities in the various sub-sectors of SANRAL.
Mteto suggested that SANRAL allocate a budget to place the trained persons into an incubator system in order to yield real growth in the years to come.
“The training should be intentional and done consciously in order to yield results. My proposal is that SANRAL should apply to National Treasury to enable the ring-fencing of work for targeted enterprises, particularly women in the sector,” said Mteto.
She advised the certificate recipients that “having knowledge is one thing, but applying the knowledge is where the empowerment is.”
Ndika said that although the task that lies ahead was a mammoth one, some ground was already being covered to ensure that tangible results could soon be realised in the advancement of interests of women in the sector.