SELEBI-PHIKWE: While many people who lost jobs after the BCL Mine’s closure some ex-miners teamed up to form companies that have already started employing other ex-miners.
Through the support of Selebi-Phikwe Town Council, such companies have already won tenders for council projects under Economic Stimulus Programme (ESP) and constituency community development projects. The former BCL employees are treated as vulnerable groups and their companies have so far done well in the projects they carried out. Former heavy plant mechanic artisan, Booster Moalosi, said they grouped themselves and registered a construction company to survive the economic situation that worsened immediately after the mine closed. He said they have already won a tender to build a classroom block and two toilet blocks at Phikwe Primary School.
He said under the project, they employed 12 former miners and that since the project has been completed and handed to council, only three are remaining to do final touch-ups.
“We found it necessary to group up and register a company so that we can share ideas on proper business management and we are using the skills we acquired from the mine. “Some have building skills that they learnt from the mine but had no certificates. I also use my supervision and leadership skills that I acquired from the mine to manage the projects,” he said.
Moalosi said they had a challenge of lack of startup capital when they won the tender, but council assisted them with direct payment to suppliers.
“We got all the materials that we needed from local suppliers and council would directly pay them off and give us the balance. This enabled us to successfully complete the project and meet our targets,” he said.
For equipment and machinery, the company hired from other local companies. Council also has a provision where it hires its equipment out to local companies to compliment where the private sector cannot and the demand increases when many tenders are awarded.
This assists a lot in ensuring that projects are completed on time and council maintains that it is
Moalosi is happy that through the path they took they were able to sustain their families and created job opportunities for others. “We have successfully completed the project, but there are some variations that we may also be engaged to do. We have already submitted quotations for car parking and fencing and we are continuing to tender for other works and even exploring opportunities outside Selebi-Phikwe,” he said. He added that the mine’s closure opened their eyes such that even if it were to reopen, or are called to work none of them would rest on his laurels and would ensure that there is alternative means of survival. He prayed that the mine reopens so that it presents more tender opportunities for them.
He thanked council for giving preference and priority to local upcoming companies and empowering them. “We appreciate the good working relationship that we have with council as they inspected every phase and shared ideas with us. They were always available to assist until the end,” he said.
Another ex-miner contractor, who benefitted from council but preferred anonymity said he and other former workmates had an idea of registering companies even before the mine closed, but only gave it their last shot when the mine closed because they knew it would be tough to secure employment.
“We started tendering for constituency community development projects and managed to employ 12 former mine employees who resided around the area of the project awarded. We have already completed the project and handed it over within time and budget to council. We had no startup capital, but council rescued us a lot by making arrangements with local suppliers. Council even extended a similar arrangement to those who supplied us with aggregates and concrete and everything became much easier,” he said.