Thousands of entrepreneurs and job-seekers attended stakeholder events hosted by the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited (Sanral) last week to share information on business and job opportunities available on the R30 billion N2/N3 upgrade project.
Engagements sessions were held in Pietermaritzburg, Hammarsdale and Durban for small, medium and micro-sized enterprises (SMMEs) about contract opportunities, how to register with the Construction Industry Development Board and processes to follow when tendering.
SMMEs also had access to an exhibition area where they could get information from the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors, the National African Federation for the Building Industry, Ithala Business Finance and construction industry equipment companies including Bell Equipment, Barloworld, Wirtgen and Pilot Crushtec.
The N2/N3 upgrades will have enormous economic spin-offs for KwaZulu-Natal during construction. The corridor is seen as one of South Africa’s key infrastructure development projects.
Dumisani Nkabinde, Sanral Regional Manager in the Eastern Region, said: “The strategic intent is to help develop and grow black-owned small to medium-sized construction, engineering and related industry businesses.
“It is estimated that a project of the magnitude of the N2/N3 upgrades will create approximately 15 000 job opportunities in KwaZulu-Natal. It is also envisaged that SMMEs will benefit enormously.”
Ravi Ronny, Sanral Eastern Region Design, Planning and Construction Manager, said: “The N2/N3 upgrade is a strategic corridor which has the highest volume of traffic anywhere on the KwaZulu-Natal and Free State national roads network.
“Sanral has taken into account the current and future plans for expansion of the Durban port. Hence, the N2/N3 upgrades will cater for increased traffic volumes, especially heavy vehicles.”
Mxolisi Kaunda, the MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison in KZN, said there was a need for all parties to work together for South Africa to grow as a united country.
“We are extremely pleased that Sanral is investing billions of rand in KZN to upgrade road infrastructure which will not only facilitate economic growth but will also enhance road safety.
“Over and above this, business and job opportunities will be created for SMMEs and ordinary citizens,” Kaunda said.
Ismail Essa, Sanral’s Transformation Manager, said the roads agency recognises the contribution it makes to build a capable and developmental state and drive economic growth through the provision and maintenance of critical infrastructure.
On capital projects, the agency will only do business with companies that are at least 51% black-owned and with a minimum B-BEE Level 2 rating.
In an effort to give small contractors access to earthmoving machinery to allow them to participate more meaningfully in major construction projects, the roads agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Bell Equipment.
Ryan Britain, Bell’s Regional General Manager, said: “Access to sophisticated and more advanced equipment 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 MOU will attract new entrants into the construction and engineering sectors, particularly black contractors, who will in turn grow their business and create jobs.”
Pinetown resident Dumisani Mkhize, a director of Zasembo Construction & Trading, which does civils work, said he welcomed the useful information about the numerous job opportunities that will be available and also getting to meet some of the Sanral project managers.
Sne Mwelase, from Durban, was extremely grateful for the information session and that Sanral was offering SMMEs the opportunity to sub-contract with bigger companies.
“We also had the opportunity to engage with some of Sanral’s MOU partners at the exhibition stands and obtain valuable information about accessing finance for equipment,” said Mwelase.
Nompumelelo Nzuza, who owns Gabayithini Construction Pty Ltd and also supplies food to many local schools in KZN, said the workshop gave SMMEs access to job opportunities and to gain knowledge about training programmes offered.
The upgrade of the N2 will focus on a key section of the highway, from Lovu River on the South Coast, to Umdloti on the North Coast. The N3 upgrade will focus on an 80km section from Durban to Pietermaritzburg.
These upgrades will include the widening of the N2 and N3 carriageways, with four to five lanes in each direction, and the reconfiguration of most major interchanges.
Due to the length and estimated cost of the projects, the corridor will be split into a number of detailed design and construction packages.
The upgrading of the N2 and N3 is expected to take between five to eight years to complete, depending on funding availability.