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Johannesburg - The South African National Roads Agency (Sanral) on Friday said it would create job opportunities for black businesses, improve safety, up-skill locals and help develop SMMEs in the small village of Oshoek, Mpumalanga.

Sanral and the transport department visited the village as part of its 'Taking Sanral to the People' programme, aimed at promoting dialogue between the roads' agency, various spheres of government, business, communities and other key stakeholders that were affected by its projects.

Deputy minister of transport Sindisiwe Chikunga said the agency had embarked on a drive to inform stakeholders about the opportunities within the road construction industry.

In keeping with government’s infrastructure development plan, Sanral said it would use road infrastructure development as a catalyst for job creation and empowerment.

Sanral's acting northern region manager, Madoda Mthembu, said the agency was driving transformation of the construction industry by creating opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

“We would like to see greater involvement of black-owned SMMEs in road construction, maintenance and other related services. This way we can ensure that communities like Oshoek, which are often far removed from the benefits of economic activity, benefit from an employment and entrepreneurial perspective," said Mthembu.

He said Sanral managed a total network of 2 478 kilometres in Mpumalanga. In the past three years, through Sanral projects, SMMEs in the province had conducted work to the value of R760 million, 70% of the small contractors being black-owned. As part of these projects, over 2 000 work opportunities were created and 483 individuals received skills' development training.

“We are aware of the fact that our purchasing patterns, as well as our employment practice, have a major impact on the communities within which we work. This is why our CEO and board have taken on the challenge of assisting in the transformation of the construction sector. This can only be achieved if we begin to make space for small contractors, professionals and suppliers beyond the current regulatory levels, while also removing some of their barriers to entry," said Mthembu.

Chikunga said Sanral had always gone the extra mile when addressing the empowerment of suitably qualified black, youth and women-owned enterprises. 

"We want to empower local entrepreneurs but we cannot afford to empower people who don’t want to empower themselves. Any company that wishes to do work on Sanral projects must have the skills and expertise because we will not accept shoddy workmanship, which will degrade the quality of our roads," said Chikunga.

She said interventions that dealt with ameliorating road safety did not only end with driver, pedestrian or vehicle safety, but included the improvement of hazardous roads through engineering.

She urged road users to take personal responsibility for their safety.  

African News Agency (ANA)