A GROUP of about 200 disgruntled small business owners in Nelson Mandela Bay yesterday protested outside the Coega Development Corporation headquarters in a bid to put pressure on chief executive Pepi Silinga to give them a slice of the CDC's multimillion- rand contracts.
Workers used a back entrance into the building in the morning as the group protested outside before Silinga agreed to meet them behind closed doors.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Metro Pro-Active Business Front, which is an umbrella body of small businesses in the Bay, complained about "Coega's unholy attitude" in awarding contracts to emerging black-owned businesses in the metro.
Before the meeting, the group's spokesman, Litemba Singapi, said while they understood the corporation was a national enterprise, they wanted local small businesses to be prioritised in the awarding of contracts.
"In the last two years, Coega has been demonstrating an unholy way of dealing with emerging black African construction companies.
"If Coega is so loud about the 35% of contracts that are supposed to be distributed to local businesses – but do not monitor the process – it becomes pointless.
"We have come to a decision that a database with local businesses be created," he said.
After the meeting, Singapi said they had agreed with the corporation to meet again next Friday.
"They acknowledged that local black construction companies are not benefiting and asked for more time to look at the current contracts and find a way of how they would slot us in."
Coega spokesman Ayanda Vilakazi confirmed they would meet the group next week on Friday.
"We had a group of people coming to the CDC who wanted to complain about SMMEs' participation in Coega projects. We have 35% of our spend going to SMMEs. We also have enterprise development programmes aimed at the development of small businesses."