The e-toll situation remains a dwang - because engineers have entrusted the issue to faulty politicians and a lawgiver. A judge, parading his legal prowess in the intricacies of the law - 'thou shalt not kill,' 'thou shalt not covet another man's cattle' - has adjudicated a technical matter, closely related to transport planning and economics, based on public opinion. The lawgiver strolled down his mountain, waving his tablet (i-Pad) and spurted out an emotional decision - the eleventh commandment: 'thou shalt not e-toll'.
Engineering, management and specialist services company Aurecon was appointed by Vale to conduct the conceptual layout of the Moatize mine infrastructure and was subsequently re-appointed for the detailed design, which Aurecon sub-contracted to Golder Associates, owing to Golder's strong expertise in water infrastructure and mine waste management, specifically in the coal mining environment.
Watching the late morning sun finally appear over the crest of the flat-topped mountains brings welcome warmth that starkly contrasts the crisp coolness of the desert nights in the Karoo. I can still smell the clove on my hands that was used to spice the springbuck and fat-tail sheep sausage we made the day before. The rich green colour of the lucerne crop seems almost out of place in the middle of such an expanse of dusty tan earth filled with volcanic rocks and small bushes that somehow manage to thrive in such a dry environment. In the background I hear the plunger of the windmill pump bobbing up and down, and the squeak reminds me that the vitality of the lucerne, the animals, and the farmers I'm staying with depends on a vast network of aquifers deep beneath the earth's surface. Undoubtedly, the farmers who originally battled against the harsh weather, remoteness and difficult terrain of the Karoo to settle here would never have suspected that the livelihood of their descendants would be so influenced by the activities of oil and gas corporations. Little did they know about the enormous reservoirs of natural gas buried even deeper than the aquifers, or the economic trends that would put these resources and the farmers themselves at the centre of one of the biggest debates of contemporary significance.
First of all, I should state that this is my personal opinion and does not reflect the position of my employer.
It is unfortunate that a series of events conspired to place the e-toll system before the North Gauteng High Court. I do not blame the court for the current e-toll impasse. I am of the opinion that it was unfair to expect the court to rule on such a complicated transport economic matter. Clem Sunter supported tolling on News 24, but very few comments were received from transportation engineers, hence my appreciation that SAICE's CEO invited me to share my opinion.
In water distribution networks in South Africa, water is often fed under gravity from a higher reservoir to another reservoir at a lower level. The high pressure head at the receiving reservoir is then dissipated through the control valves (altitude valves), or in some cases, orifice plates. The benefit of this hydropower generating application is that minimal civil works need to be done as the control valves are normally inside a control room/valve chamber. No negative environmental or social effects require mitigation and the anticipated lead times should be short.
A decision by the South African government about ten years ago not to proceed at that time with the scheduled coal-fired power station construction has come as a blessing in disguise for a disused Blake hydraulic ram pump (HRP) manufactured way back in 1962.
Practices of discharging high COD (Chemical Oxygen Demand) wastewater into municipal and other water sources, and the sustained high CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, are in discord with the drive to reduce our carbon footprint. Anaerobic wastewater treatment is an effective method of generating energy (methane) from high COD wastewater. This can significantly reduce the carbon footprint of industrial, food processing and chemical plants in two ways. Firstly by partly substituting external energy inputs, and secondly by reducing the energy consumption of the treatment process itself, since anaerobic treatment is far less energy intensive than the equivalent aerobic treatment.
Using a basket containing manageable small stones, instead of a single heavy, large stone which is difficult to move, is an old concept that has been well known to mankind for a long time. First records of the use of this system go back more than 2 000 years, when the Egyptians used cylindrical willow baskets filled with small stones to protect the banks of the River Nile from erosion.
On a recently completed project on the North Coast, involving engineering consultants Naidu Consulting (Pty) Ltd, the reclaimed asphalt from one 5 km section of road was imported to create a foamed bitumen stabilised material base course on an adjacent 5 km section, at a third of the cost of a conventional black base.
The engineering profession plays a critical role in the delivery and maintenance of infrastructure. It is involved in:
the detailed planning, design, construction and optimisation or condition assessment of infrastructure
the development of short-, medium- and long-term infrastructure plans at both a portfolio and project level, and the administration of works contracts for the acquisition, refurbishment, rehabilitation and maintenance of infrastructure
the strategic planning and management of the operation and maintenance of infrastructure, and
specific duties relating to health, safety and environmental aspects of infrastructure as provided for in legislation.
The civil engineering discipline currently accounts for just less than half the number of professional engineers and professional engineering technologists registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). A major portion of the work undertaken by civil engineers involves public infrastructure.