Small business owners shut down civil engineering project in Uitenhage

The group is demanding 30% of the value of an erosion control contract

Photo of workers

A group of small business owners demanded that workers on an erosion control project in Uitenhage rip up the work they had done and go home. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

By Thamsanqa Mbovane

23 August 2019

There was chaos at a river bank behind busy Ponana Tini Road in KwaNobuhle, Uitenhage, on Friday morning. A group of about 20 small business (SMMEs) owners in ward 44 shut down a project by Ikhono Civils to control soil erosion. They demanded 30% of the tender, which is worth at least R500,000 according to the site manager.

Bongani Jack said: “We were not consulted and no project can happen in this ward without us.”

The SMME owners interrogated the site manager, who only gave his name as Zack. “I do not know who is an SMME or not. Anyone can come to me and call himself an SMME,” said Zack. “It’s your councillor who is supposed to tell you what is going on.”

“I know there are two groups of SMMEs in this ward, and it is therefore difficult to talk to one group to upset the other group,” he said.

Another SMME owner, Madi Magkato, said, ”We want to see the letter of appointment that tells the total value of this project.”

A meeting was scheduled for Monday with Ward Councillor Nomsa Booi (ANC).

Booi told GroundUp: “These people (SMMEs) refuse to meet the other SMMEs … They don’t want to come when called to meetings.”

One of the workers on the project told GroundUp: “We get R34 an hour here. We started three days ago. But we don’t want to work for the SMMEs because they only give people R100 a day.”

Another worker on the site who packed up his things shouted at the SMMEs owners, “Nine zothe! (You are all disgusting).”