BALLITO – The two-day Women In Built Environment Empowerment Summit held at the weekend has rekindled hope for hundreds of women led and owned construction companies that going forward they would be able to break the barriers presently preventing them from meaningful participation in the built environment sector in KwaZulu-Natal.
The summit – the brainchild of KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works Neliswa Peggy Nkonyeni – saw more than 250 emergent construction contractors converging at Hampshire Hotel in Ballito over two days during the weekend.
The women delegates deliberated on how to partake in business opportunities in the Built Environment Sector as offered by the KwaZulu-Natal Departments of Human Settlements and Public Works.
Women delegates exhorted MEC Nkonyeni to relook at some of the existing conditions in bidding documents when tendering for work in both Departments as such requirements ended closing potential women led and owned service providing companies outside the system resulting in established companies having a monopoly in getting tenders from Public Works and Human Settlements
These conditions, argued the delegated robustly during commissions, contradicted the noble intentions of the Provincial Government’s preferred procurement policies and flew in the face of achieving the objectives of the very theme of the summit that read: Radical Socio-Economic Empowerment of Women through Infrastructure Delivery.
In her response to the cries of the delegates, MEC Nkonyeni said it remains her main priority that there would be meaningful and maximum participation for women led and owned construction during her stewardship of the two critical Built Environment Departments and that would not be negotiable.
:”Emerging from this summit, I would convene a session that will be attended by established contractors as well as emergent contractors.
The sole purpose of the proposed session is to ensure that a working synergy is realised between the two diverse contractors.
We as the two Departments shall facilitate that those who are established impart the knowledge and successes they had while at the same time they highlight the challenges they had to overcome and other inherent barriers existing in the built environment.
We shall be doing so whilst holding the emergent contractors by hand to become successful in their enterprises,” remarked MEC Nkonyeni.
She further said she is determined to end the reign of cartel contractors that have had a stranglehold of most contract work in both Departments so that new emergent entrants especially women led and owned companies as well as youth, people with disabilities and military veterans also partake meaningfully.
The women delegates at the summit were exposed to various presentations from a number of experts on matters ranging from capacitating training, regulatory framework, funding and business opportunities and construction industry inclined opportunities geared for women led and owned contractors.
The delegates also actively participated in three commissions that explored the inherent challenges and opportunities in the following:
- Empowerment of Women in Property Industry
- Empowerment of Women in the Built Environment Sector
- Opportunities throughout the Value Chain of the Built Environment Sector. ENDS
Mbulelo Baloyi – Media Liaison Officer
Office of the KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Human Settlements and Public Works
079 871 3915 or 083 320 0274