eThekwini’s R400-million Water and Sanitation Project to supply potable water and toilet facilities to more than 300 informal settlements throughout the municipality has introduced a mentorship initiative in support of emerging contractors involved in the project.
The mentorship programme is based on the small enterprise development model which was successfully pioneered by the city in its Asbestos Cement (AC) Pipe Replacement Project.
eThekwini project executive Alan Kee, says, “Our aim is to develop resources from within the community so that large municipal projects serve as effective training grounds for small enterprise development.”
Started in January 2009, the ongoing Water and Sanitation Project has already handed over 142 ablution blocks on 71 sites in 34 informal settlements located around eThekwini. A further 392 containers, which are fully fitted to function as ablution facilities, will be handed over to various communities early this year.
Evan Smith, lead project manager for consulting engineers Aurecon, says that the subcontractor development programme will be independently assessed based on agreed outcome targets. Each of the eight local subcontractors works with one of the main contractors on the project. In addition, mentoring is provided by professional mentorship consultants, Lwazi Projects.
Mentorship expert Willie Rossouw of Lwazi Projects has developed a scorecard which is used to monitor the progress made in key areas by each subcontractor. The scorecard provides feedback on key results areas, such as site costing, construction programming and staffing. In addition, fortnightly workshops are held by the mentors to help subcontractors get to grips with these and other important aspects of construction work.
Busi Ndlovu, a site agent with Royal Africa Trading, one of the subcontractors on the mentorship programme, says, “I am learning a great deal about managing and developing a successful business. One of the keys to success is to identify and train key staff, using the workshops conducted by the mentors.”
Community buy-in is an important part of the project. Locally recruited community liaison officers are on hand to inform and educate communities about the project so that the health benefits related to having access to potable water and sewage services are clearly understood.
When installations are completed at the various sites, caretakers selected from the community within the respective informal settlement are assigned to take care of the facilities – also creating local employment.
“We are delighted with the service delivery goals which are being achieved by the project. The provision of basic sanitation is an important part of eThekwini’s ongoing strategy,” says Kee.