This project draws together the National Department of Housing, the Gauteng Department of Housing and the three local authorities of Germiston, Boksburg and Albertson. The civil engineers, Phumelela Africa, acted as the project managers. A business plan for repairs to the houses was developed, which included the encouragement and development of emergent contractors from the community.
Emergent local contractors were invited to tender on a house by house basis. A total of 95 129 tenders was evaluated by the Construction Manager, at an average of 36 tenders per house. The use of emergent contractors entailed some changes in ordinary procedures. Contractors were graded according to their levels of experience and expertise, allowing the better contractors to be appointed for bigger projects, and the less experienced contractors for the smaller projects. This allowed the contractors to develop according to their own capability.
In addition to grading of skills, the normal tender documentation was drastically amended and simplified to suit the needs and understanding of the emergent contractors. The lengthy periods for awaiting decisions on tenders was dramatically shortened by arranging for the State Tender Board to delegate its authority to a Departmental Tender Committee.
Quality control was carried out by building inspectors of the Gauteng Department of Housing. Work was regularly assessed, and it was possible for a contractor to be up or down graded according to the quality of the work. Departmental inspectors certified completed work for payment. Procedures were also amended to allow contractors to be paid via a fair and efficient payment authorization system within a maximum of ten days of completion.
Part of the project focused on the training and upgrading of skills of contractors by experts employed by the project manager. In addition, contractors were exposed to the administrative and financial management aspects of contracting. Community members were also trained as security guards, in order to guard the properties in the period when work was being conducted.
The project involved 7000 payments, and R84 million passed into the hands of the community. 342 contractors were trained; many started the project with a minimal level of previous experience, and many of the contractors have gone on to develop successful businesses.
"Weaknesses? The only weakness is that some of our contractors have gone on to become millionaires!" Themba Maluleka, Project Leader