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|Editions > 2006 > June||Monday May 20, 2013 - Melbourne Time: 06:50:44|
Indigenous construction company wins $4m roads contract
An indigenous construction company that started digging rubbish holes for remote communities has recently signed a $4 million road building contract with the Northern Territory Government. Members of the Ntaria Council at Hermannsburg, 120km west of Alice Springs, formed Ntaria Construction and Maintenance after seeing the need for a remote area excavation company.
Ntaria Council Operations Manager, Les Smith, said that Council decided to purchase its own excavator after an Alice Springs contractor quoted $10,000 to dig a "dump hole" at Hermannsburg. Ntaria Construction and Maintenance invested $43,000 in an excavator last year and recovered its costs within two months. The company has now dug 25 dump holes, measuring 40mx20m, which serve as community landfill sites for about a six month period.
"We knew there would always be a need for these holes to be dug on communities all around Alice Springs," Les Smith said.
Ntaria Construction and Maintenance purchased a Mac low loader truck to transport the excavator to more remote jobs. They formed a joint venture called Larapinta Constructions with Darwin based indigenous construction company DAC Enterprises.
Larapinta has just been awarded a $4 million government contract to provide 110,00 cubic metres of gravel for the West MacDonnell Range Tourist Loop Road. Under the contract, Larapinta Constructions will excavate, screen, crush and blend gravel at the intersection of Namatjira Drive and Haasts Bluff, commonly known as Beer Can Corner.
The Northern Territory's Infrastructure and Transport Minister, Dr Chris Burns, said substantial employment and training was a key part of the contract. As it is a joint venture, DAC will provide much of the plant and management, while Ntaria has purchased a 960 Cat loader and will provide people for training.
"This project is a test case," Les Smith said. "Road building is a very competitive industry up here and margins are tight. If we do this job well, the Government will look at other organisations with indigenous employment for other tenders. One of the requirements is that we have to train Indigenous people for this job. It will encourage young fellas to get their heavy rigid licence and to keep their licence."
Ntaria Construction and Maintenance, which remains a division of Larapinta Construction, is also working on various Roads to Recovery projects worth $194,000 and has a civil contract at Santos, 370km west of Alice Springs, worth $120,000 a year. Ntaria Council currently employs 38 people based at Hermannsburg. Of these, Ntaria Construction and Maintenance directly employees ten people and is now recruiting from neighbouring communities and Alice Springs. "We have a visible presence on the road," Les Smith said. "When people see our truck they ring up and ask for work."
He aims to encourage stable employment and responsible spending among Ntaria employees. "We still have a bit of a problem with young fellas working for a couple of weeks, earning good money, spending it all and coming back to work when they've got none left," Les Smith said. "I'm trying to teach them that if they work hard for long hours they will see that pot of gold and they can use it to save, invest and still have a some left to spend."
Gus Williams has been the CEO and Chairman of Ntaria Council for the past 20 years. "I'm really proud that Indigenous people have shown that we can take an opportunity that is put in front of us," Gus Willliams said. "So many times, we have had bad things go out about us, but this is an example of the good things we can do for ourselves."
For further information phone Les Smith on (08) 8956 7411 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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