Deputy Transport Minister Sindiswe Chikunga has ordered roads agency Sanral to ensure that SMMEs are paid by the large companies who subcontract them for work. She reminded SMMEs that they had a role to play in building and maintaining South Africa’s roads, and they should not be taken for a ride.
Chikunga was speaking at the Gert Sibande District Municipality in Mpumalanga last week as part of the agency’s “Taking Sanral to the People” project. She said one of the issues she was seriously concerned about was small and medium businesses not getting paid. “(You would find that) the main contractor is hired for the project, and SMMEs are happy to be subcontracted,” the deputy minister said.
“The SMMEs end up complaining that when the time comes to get paid for services rendered, they do not get paid, and they are left with employees that need wages and work that needs to be complete. “We are saying to the (Sanral board to go and correct this. We cannot leave our brothers and sisters alone to fend for themselves. Penalise the main contractor that doesn’t pay and adhere to the conditions set,” the deputy minister demanded.
Chikunga also said that inasmuch as there must be a way to support and mentor SMMEs, they too must be ready to grow. “We empower our people by supporting their businesses, but the moment they have money they want to live a flashy life, and when that happens the work suffers,” she said. “The person ends up remaining an SMME and not growing because they saw R3-million in their bank account and bought an R1.7-million car when they actually needed a bakkie for their business.”
She also commented on the proposed Public Procurement Bill, saying that it guaranteed that the government would ensure that SMMEs got much more work. “We do not want to pit companies that are starting out in the construction sector, with companies that have been on the sector for decades, (and that have concessions with municipalities that no other company can fix damaged roads except for theirs,” she said.