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gautrain benefits big 5

By unknown | Jan 11, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Andrew Molefe

Andrew Molefe

The National Black Contractors and Allied Trades Forum is spoiling for a fight with the ministries of transport over the Gautrain project.

This week the forum, which has a membership of 20000 countrywide, accused the department, including that of public works, of paying lip-service to the empowerment of black contractors, whom they say are only allowed to feed on the crumbs.

Nabcat president Sam Moleshiwa said: "South Africa is experiencing a boom in the construction sector, but this does not filter through to previously disadvantaged contractors."

Moleshiwa, whose body emerged from an annual congress this week, cited the R25 billion Gautrain project to support his organisation's point.

He said: "Despite the inclusion of a black empowerment component in the deal, black interest amounts to a mere 2percent of the whole deal."

He said beneficiaries of the economic upswing in the deal, including those awarded contracts to upgrade and build stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, were members of the Big 5, previously advantaged construction companies he did not mention by name.

"The Big 5 control the market and all we get are tenders to build toilets," he said, adding that there are not enough toilets to build anyway.

The organisation is calling for the amendment of Act 38 of 2000 of the department of public works, which it says keeps shifting the goalposts. There have been nine amendments in three years, said the organisation, and these amendments marginalise small, black contractors.

Moleshiwa said the situation is not improved by the fact that the chief executive and top positions in the board of the Registrar of Contractors are occupied by executives from large companies such as Murray & Roberts and WHBO.

He said: "These people are both the players and referees. Big business has lost a heart for smaller players."

Nabcat said the government, through its Registrar of Contractors, has made it almost impossible for the small players to enter the market or survive within it.

"There are grading contractors from one to nine and many of our members have no chance in hell of achieving stringent rules set out. Fourteen years into the dawn of democracy, black contractors have not been able to go beyond the Grade six ceiling and that's scandalous."

He believes that both the government and empowered construction companies should empower small black contractors to enable them to compete as equals.

Contractors graded at number one are only allowed to tender for contracts worth R300000 and below while those in Grade8 tender up to R25 million. Grade 9 is unlimited, he said.


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