Here’s a good news story that warms the heart. FleetWatch has often pointed out that there is more to a road than just a strip of tar. Proof of this can be found at the Marula Fruit Sellers’ Market near the Malalane Kruger National Park Gate in Mpumalanga.
From the outset of its concession contract, TRAC has cemented mutually beneficial relationships with communities and established companies along the N4 Toll Route.
This is vital to the success of the Maputo Corridor as a whole. Without co-operation from local communities, TRAC would not be able to function efficiently as a concessionaire. On the flip side of the coin, communities along the route would not be exposed to the extensive Corporate Social Investment (CSI) programme that TRAC runs.
The Marula Fruit Sellers’ Market is a perfect example of this. In 2012 TRAC and RCL Foods, in Nkomazi, commenced with Phase 1 of the facility which consisted of building a fully-equipped block of trading stalls for local informal fruit traders. The stalls were officially opened at the end of that year and were initially occupied by 15 hawkers.
Since then, TRAC and RCL Foods have worked closely together to ensure that the project remains successful and fruitful (pardon the pun). Both parties have conducted routine maintenance and minor upgrades to the facility over the years, while also establishing a small nursery and vegetable garden.
In 2018, both companies agreed that major renovations were needed to further enhance the aesthetics and customer appeal of the trading post and improve the working conditions of the 14 traders (13 female and one male) that now operate there. The 2018 upgrade consisted of the following:
* Major repairs to the thatch roof.
* Building of pine benches.
* Building of lockers and crates near stalls.
* Paving the customer seating area and the front of the facility.
* Replacement/repainting of dustbins.
* Upgrade of the automated irrigation system.
* Replacement of old signboards.
* Repairing of stoves.
* Repainting of toilets and storeroom.
* Pest control treatment.
* Replacement of the vegetable garden’s shade netting.
* New, branded uniforms for the hawkers.
According to the hawkers, the renovations and the entire project have had a positive influence in both their professional and personal lives.
“What TRAC and RCL Foods have done for us is amazing,” says Moureen Mkhonto, one of the hawkers. “My mom was one of the first hawkers to work here and after she passed away, I took over her stall. Working here has helped me support a four-person household and pay for a business management course for myself. I have also been able to pay for driver’s license lessons and certification for my brother and me as well as putting my siblings and daughter through school.”
“Being here has made me an entrepreneur in my own right and I can only grow from this point. It has allowed me to believe that my dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur can, and will, come true”.
Now isn’t that a great story. And of course, helping her achieve this are the many truck drivers who stop on their journeys to buy some of the lovely goodies from these stalls.