SMALL Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMMEs) owners from Northam and Thabazimbi in Limpopo are crying foul over the delay in payments by the Road Agency Limpopo (RAL).
Last week, they converged at the offices of RAL in Polokwane demanding answers on why they have not received payments for a long period.
They said that they were contracted to a R260 million project to construct a road back in June 2016.
One of the SMMEs owners who did not want to be named for fear of victimisation said there has always been inconsistency in payments since the beginning of the project: “The reason we decided to come to the offices of RAL as SMME’s to discuss this matter is because we have been informed by the main contractor that was appointed to lead the project that they will no longer pay us.
“The contractor confirmed to us that up until they get paid, we will never get paid as well.
“RAL has not been consistent in paying us. We always hoped that things will change along the way but that was not the case.”
He said since RAL was a state entity, it was important for it to clarify to business owners and community members how they are expected to survive.
He said that RAL always emphasized the importance of developing SMMEs, but it fails to uphold its promises.
He said that the failure of RAL to pay, has affected them and their businesses negatively: “We have different individuals here with different backgrounds at the same time, and we all depend on that project as means of survival. We spent December without getting paid.
“For the full confirmation that we will not get paid is a serious challenge which is why we have decided to engage in talks with the custodian of the whole project as to why there are no priorities towards certain communities.
“Without income there is no basis of survival and sustainability. We believe we wasted our time demanding answers from the main contractors and engineers.
“The protest was inevitable because we have tried to avoid it through engagement and should we not receive what is due to us, the workers will take the matters into their own hands and we are talking about 400 to 500 workers out of approximately 17 construction companies.”
A spokesperson for RAL, Maropeng Manyathela, acknowledged that the entity was running a project in Northam. However, he said: I’m honestly not aware that there are problems with payments. As far as I’m concerned, all projects have been paid on the 30th so I’m not aware of anybody who has not been paid.”