Local subcontractors want slice of construction pie

Kosovo project steering committee member King Mandoyi, New Woodlands community liaison officer (CLO) Sharief Chowglay and Kosovo CLO Andile Dlali.

The Kosovo and New Woodlands project steering committees (PSC) hosted a workshop with local subcontractors and suppliers at West End Primary School, in Lentegeur, on Friday January 29.

Power Construction has been contracted by the government to build 434 houses by March next year.

About 10 000 houses will be built on more than 70 hectares of land, known as the Southern Corridor Integrated Human Settlement Programme, a joint initiative between the three tiers of government (“Building a home together”, Plainsman, November 27, 2019).

The Kosovo project’s main site includes 22 hectares of informal settlement and approximately 6 200 households.

Woodlands Project Steering Committee chairman Shahiem van Nelson, said local subcontractors and suppliers were struggling to hit the mark when quoting to get the opportunity to work on local projects.

“The fight for economic justice continues. For far too long has the bulk of profits been moved to one side of the divide,” he said.

Mr Van Nelson said the workshop followed a number of engagements and deliberations with all stakeholders over the past few years.

“To the main contractor and future contractors, let this be a lesson of not just coming into our areas, milking us dry and just leaving.

“We have suppliers in Mitchell’s Plain that make sure that their part of social responsibility is fulfilled,” he said.

Power Construction contracts manager Brent Laruffa said they could not manage without the subcontractors, and that the bulk of the work would be done by local labourers, bricklayers, concrete work, plasterers, painters and door fitters.

“We are totally dependent on the subcontractors, where we work together to make this thing work,” he said.

“There will be opportunities for the bulk of the subcontractors sitting in this room, if we wish to achieve 40 houses a month. We need people to supply electrical and plumbing materials as well as build a house completely – supply and fit a house,” he said.

Mr Laruffa said it made perfect sense that the locals were included and benefited from the project.

“Our first obligation is to give the beneficiary a house. A house they can be proud of,” he said.

Within the next two weeks they will meet and workshop rates with subcontractors and suppliers.

Local subcontractor Carlos Mbilyi said it was important to discuss rates and plans first or they could become stumbling blocks in the process.