Dumisani Nkabinde, SANRAL Eastern Region regional manager. Photo: Supplied

DURBAN - Communities in far-flung rural areas in Northern KwaZulu Natal Road have not been overlooked by the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (SANRAL).

They have been provided with safer walkways for pedestrians and periodic road maintenance has been carried out on crucial routes that serve passenger and goods vehicles. In the process, hundreds of jobs have been created and SMMEs have been developed.

SANRAL this week embarked on a drive to inform stakeholders of the opportunities that exist in the construction industry.

In keeping with the government’s Infrastructure Development Plan, SANRAL will use roads infrastructure development as the catalyst for job creation and empowerment.

SANRAL hosted its Taking SANRAL to the People programme in Kwangwanase at Kosi Bay in Northern KZN to promote dialogue between the roads agency, different spheres of government, business, communities and other key stakeholders that are affected by its projects.

Dumisani Nkabinde, SANRAL Eastern Region regional manager, said through this programme, SANRAL shares information with stakeholders about its continuing role in infrastructure development, job creation and skills development initiatives, as well as engages in dialogue on issues of mutual interest with these stakeholders.

Nkabinde said communities that were far away from large cities and towns were often forgotten, whereas, in reality, these were the very people who were in need of jobs, empowerment and road safety education.

He said SANRAL will also draw from Horizon 2030, its renewed statement of intent of how the roads agency will grow to deliver a national road system that contributes to a better South Africa for all.

SANRAL will also give real meaning to its transformation policy which recognises the critical role that SANRAL plays in the construction, engineering and related sectors.

SANRAL has undertaken several projects in Northern KZN to make roads safer for pedestrians whilst rehabilitating and upgrading existing roads. Driven by road safety concerns, SANRAL constructed pedestrian facilities on the N2 between Nyalazi River and Hluhluwe River. This project entailed the rehabilitation and replacement of the damaged existing walkway and the construction of additional walkways.

In addition, existing culverts were extended on sections where they crossed the walkway. Also, of critical importance, is the fact that this work was used to also start contributing more to the Manguzi community, with numerous jobs created for people of Manguzi – a significant amount of which were women. 

Furthermore, black-owned SMMEs were also contracted to the tune of R2.24 million in addition to R1.2 million spent on local labour and 63 people trained in furtherance of Skills Development through maintenance of the R22 from Mseleni River to Phelendabe circle, SANRAL maintains a continuing presence.

He added that considering SANRAL’s focus is not only job creation but also the meaningful participation of black businesses, SANRAL spent a total of R13 million on the employ of local SMME’s in addition to a total of 63 residents of Manguzi having gained employment - 20 of whom which are women.

SANRAL, as part of it, ’s a continued presence in the area, undertakes ongoing maintenance of the road from Phelendaba circle to Manguzi. This route forms part of the Spatial Development Initiative that links Hluhluwe in the south to the Mozambican border – traversing numerous settlements and villages. 

Upcoming projects include the maintenance of the N2 from Empangeni to the border of Mpumalanga Province. Planned work includes the repairs of pavements, grass cutting, attendance to drainage structures, road reserve cleaning as well as the maintenance to road amenities. 

In an effort to fast-track empowerment in the road construction industry, SANRAL has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Bell Equipment in July 2018.

Access to sophisticated and more advanced equipped used in construction has been identified as one of the biggest hurdles that continue to face emerging contractors. Emerging contractors often do not have the capital to buy the machinery used for excavations, ground moving and the grading of roads. 

The key motivation behind this MoU is to attract new entrants into the construction and engineering sectors, particularly black contractors, who will, in turn, grow their business and create jobs.

The cooperation between SANRAL and Bell Equipment is also expected to help to promote fair competition in the construction and engineering sectors. It is expected that black-owned contractors will now have access to finance, leasing and rental options of road construction equipment.