Gautrain leaves black contractors behind

Posted On Friday, 11 January 2008 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Black-owned construction companies are spoiling for a fight with the government over the Gautrain project

Infrastructure IndustryBlack-owned construction companies are spoiling for a fight with the government over the Gautrain project.

The National Black Contractors and Allied Trades Forum, which claims a membership of 20000 countrywide, this week accused the provincial transport and public works departments of paying only lip service to the empowerment of black contractors who, they say, are allowed to feed only on crumbs.

The forum’s president, Sam Moleshiwa, said on Thursday: “We are experiencing a boom in the construction sector but this does not filter through to previously disadvantaged contractors.”

Moleshiwa cited the R25-billion Gautrain project to illustrate his point.

“Despite the inclusion of a black empowerment component in the deal, black interests amount to a mere 2% of the whole deal.”

He said the main beneficiaries of the deal, including those awarded contracts to upgrade and build stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup, were the “big five” construction companies.

“The big five control the market and all we get are tenders to build toilets,” Moleshiwa said.

The black contractors’ forum is calling for changes to the Public Works Act and claims that a series of amendments to it have amounted to a repeated “shifting of the goalposts”.

The Act has been amended nine times in three years and each time small, black contractors have been increasingly marginalised, the forum said.

Moleshiwa said the situation was not helped by the chief executive and top officers on the board of the Registrar of Contractors being executives of large construction companies such as Murray & Roberts and WBHO.

His organisation said that the government, through its Registrar of Contractors, had made it almost impossible for small players to enter the market or survive in it if they did break through.

“They are grading contractors from one to nine and many of our members have no chance in hell of meeting the 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,” said Moleshiwa.

Contractors graded at number one are allowed to tender only for contracts worth R300000 or less, whereas those in grade eight tender for projects of up to R25-million. Grade nine tenders are unlimited.

“Where’s the skills transfer the government talks about?” said Moleshiwa. “Where’s the justice?”

Last modified on Saturday, 02 November 2013 09:39

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