Workers on scaffolds at the Hammarsdale project.
DURBAN - KwaZulu-Natal’s manufacturing sector generated more than 20 percent  of the province’s employment and contributed 25 percent of the province’s GDP, the second largest in the country.

The province’s leader of Government Business Nomusa Dube- Ncube said this was sparked by investment incentives the provincial government offered to investors and companies that locate their manufacturing base in KZN specifically in the Richards Bay IDZ and the Dube Trade Port.

One such partnership, she said was that the province had with heavy equipment manufacturer, Bell Equipment whose plant she visited this week as a token of the government’s commitment to work with big business to grow the economy.

“We appreciate the fact that there is a memorandum of understanding between the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and Bell Equipment. This MoU gives small contractors access to earthmoving machinery. We support this MoU because we want small players to participate more meaningfully in major construction projects.” said Dube- Ncube, who is also the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

Both Bell Equipment and Sanral acknowledged that access to sophisticated equipment used in construction proved to be one of the biggest hurdles facing emerging companies as such small players often did not have the capital to buy the machinery used for excavations, ground moving and the grading of roads.

MEC Dube-Ncube said they further supported Sanral, as a government entity, on its position to grow the construction and engineering sectors.

“Each year, this MoU will create an environment that attracts new entrants, especially black contractors who will create much needed jobs for thousands of people. In this regard, we are using our Black Industrialists Programme to support emerging entrepreneurs.” she said.

She added that the cooperation between Sanral and Bell Equipment would also help to promote fair competition in the construction and engineering sectors. “Since the signing of this MoU, many black-owned contractors have access to finance, leasing and rental options, training and maintenance services. We pay tribute to Garry Bell and his team,” said Dube-Ncube.

Group Chief Executive Officer at Bell Equipment Leon Goosen said that they were pleased by the visit by MEC Dube-Ncube as they believed it was critical for the government to step in, in the prevailing economic climate. “We requested that in whatever the government spent, which is not much these days, should be directed to South African businesses as opposed to importing. This has a significant impact on direct jobs and local suppliers benefit enormously,” said Goosen.

He added that education should also extend to everyone in KZN to heed the message to buy local.

Within the BRICS context, Bell Equipment has a partnership with Russian-based tipper truck specialist, Kamaz. This partnership enables the two companies to provide trucks suited for many countries on the African continent.

The location of Bell Equipment within the industrial port of Richards Bay presents an excellent opportunity for Bell to exports to many countries around the world.

The manufacturing of a range of Kamaz heavy duty trucks last year has resulted in the creation of additional jobs in Bell’s Richards Bay manufacturing facility. Bell has about 3200 employees worldwide, of which about 2500 are located in South Africa.

BUSINESS REPORT