It is imperative to the growth of the South African economy, and our social responsibility, that big businesses support small businesses within the construction industry, and give back to the community. This is according to Pherdy le Roux, managing director at the Gauteng branch of GVK-Siya Zama, a leading construction company that recently worked with local small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) on a local community-work-based project, Paterson Park, located in Orange Grove, Johannesburg.

Paterson Park – aimed at bringing a diverse and stimulating recreational facility to the community – seeks to provide a safe space that facilitates the development of fundamental skills like reading and writing in conjunction with sport, physical activity and health to stimulate growth and development in the community.

“From a construction perspective, we ensured that Paterson Park is birthed from the community, for the community, says le Roux. “More than 50 percent of the work, from ground up, was allocated by GVK-Siya Zama to over ten different community-owned SMMEs in and around the area.  This exceeded the contract requirement of a 30% local contractor spend and cements GVK-Siya Zama’s commitment to the development of communities.

As each SMME was appointed and commenced with their respective trades on the project, management training for the directors of each company was provided. These workshops included management of construction resources, the application of quality principles on a site, contract documentation, and the implementation of site administration and procedures. Once the course was completed, each participant received an accreditation certificate. GVK-Siya Zama also provided a full-time coordinator as part of the mentorship programme. The training programme ensured that every appointed local subcontractor was set on the road to success and was given the necessary skills and training to ensure that they could successfully complete works on site.

Along with this, 35 local employees received training during over a period of seven months in specialised skills such as plumbing, bricklaying, plastering and paving. Each of these trainees received accreditation certificates which now enables them to continue working in the industry.

While the Paterson Park project first and foremost allowed people to have input into the development of their own community, it also uplifted the community through job creation and income generation for community-based companies. The Paterson Park project is indicative of the success GVK-Siya Zama has achieved working with local communities. It also highlights the benefit of industry leading processes and training initiatives provided by the contractor.

Le Roux further explains that the project offers long term benefits to the community with the creation of a variety of facilities, including:

Learning and creativity: The park targets academic growth by providing a state of the art library, a craft centre to facilitate artistic expression and growth, and an amphitheatre for community-organised shows, presentations and recitals. It includes an administrative building, security house and generator to ensure optimal functionality at all times.

Sporting: Paterson Park is equipped with an Olympic-style swimming pool and splash pool with a grandstand for spectators. Another grandstand graces a full size soccer field, while there are two smaller five-a-side fields, as well as two tennis courts, a multi court and a basketball court, with a pavilion. To top it off the park offers an enclosed multi-function sports hall with a fully equipped gym. While specific titles have been given to these facilities, they all act as multi-use platforms.

“All members of the community, from the public to clubs and schools, will have open access to Paterson Park. GVK-Siya Zama believes that the vested community journey from construction to end use will play a huge role in uplifting the community,” he says.

“As such, it is vital for the industry to realise that projects can be successfully executed through community participation endeavours that empower local SMMEs and offer growth where it is so sorely needed,” le Roux concludes.