Gaia is groaning and the world is going mal. Planes are falling out the sky, the usually quiet earth has begun to grumble, the sea is swallowing people up in their thousands, men are slaughtering children, brotherly friction continues to feudal proportions, and amidst the savannahs of this lunacy, a deadly viral infection inconspicuously postures itself to pounce upon humanity for the final fatal finish. And to these calamities, the unaffected are seduced to indifference.
It has been said that civil engineering is the moral fibre of society. Synonyms for "civil" encompass both the civilian community and civilised living. Civil engineering contributes meaningfully to both. The core phrase in Civilution is "civil". In response to the shocking circumstances around the death of little Taegrin Morris, SAICE staff member Marie Ashpole puts matters into perspective.
SANRAL's 30-month project to improve National Route 7 between the Melkbos and Atlantis intersections in Cape Town is progressing on schedule towards completion in November 2014. The N7 connects the Western Cape to Namibia via the Vioolsdrif border post, carrying heavy traffic volumes that are increasing at a rate of 3% annually. The section between the Melkbos and Atlantis intersections had become a notoriously high accident zone, and one of the main objectives of this project is to improve road safety in the area.
The study presented in this article is part of an ongoing joint research programme on acid mine drainage (AMD) being conducted by the University of Johannesburg and the Council for Geoscience. In this study, the corrosive characteristics of AMD from the goldfields of South Africa are examined. The motivation behind this collaborative research is to generate scientific understanding that deals with pertinent questions concerning possible interaction between AMD and infrastructure. The research programme was established in the recent wake of threats and risks associated with decant of AMD in the West Rand belt, and underlying risks in the Central belt of the Witwatersrand basin. Scientific understanding is needed to deal with perceptions and public fears, such as the potential of AMD to cause disastrous consequences on urban infrastructure.
The Nile is the world's longest river with a basin area of approximately 3.2 million square kilometres stretching over 11 African countries. The Nile Basin exhibits a complex mix of hydrology, climate, socio-economic and eco-system settings. The Nile has two major sources of water: the equatorial lakes region (which contributes about 15% of the total annual runoff received at the downstream end of the Nile) and the Ethiopian highland (which contributes about 85% of the yearly flow). The Nile Basin harbours one of the world's largest freshwater wetlands, providing a huge water storage function, as well as immense eco-system services. Compared to many large river basins in the world, the Nile Basin is a water-scarce region. Nearly all irrigation currently takes place in the arid and hyper-arid downstream parts of the basin that contribute only negligibly to basin runoff. Due to high dependence on subsistence level rain-fed agriculture in upstream countries, the GDPs of these countries are highly affected by the strong intra-annual variability of rainfall, thus making their economies hostage to climatic variability.
River engineering specialists Fourth Element Consulting have combined hydraulic engineering with green infrastructure to provide urgently needed flood relief in the Atlasville suburb of the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.
Atlasville is a suburb of Boksburg just east of the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, Gauteng. Transformation of the area began in the early 1970s, when a natural wetland was drained to allow development of a middle-class suburb for personnel employed at the newly established Atlas Aircraft Company and affiliated industries. The flow of the natural watercourse was confined in a narrow canal and named the Atlaspruit, and the surrounding wetland area was backfilled with subsoils and building rubble on which residential houses were constructed. At the same time the area immediately adjacent to the canal was established as a recreational park. With ongoing residential and industrial development upstream of Atlasville, however, there was an increase in the generation of run-off from the catchment. This continuously increased the volume of water carried in the canalised Atlaspruit during storm events. From February 2006 the canal was no longer adequate to carry the run-off from major storms, and flooding caused severe damage to adjacent properties and households. Residents were forced to leave their homes while repairs were undertaken. Sewers and stormwater drains backfilled and overflowed, presenting health hazards. Insurance cover was refused in some instances and property values fell substantially.
In a region of the world where water resources are scarce and extensively utilised, there is a significant risk of exceeding the assimilative capacity of natural water courses. It is thus understood that the standards for pollution control barriers may vary between countries across the planet. South Africa has adopted norms and standards for waste containment which employ composite liners within contaminant containment barrier systems similar to the more than 100 regulatory standards worldwide.
While technical literature gives valuable guidance on service life prediction and performance, including under elevated temperature conditions, it is necessary to consider the extent of relevance to local conditions. The nature of rainfall events and ambient temperature conditions can be expected to lead to higher liner temperatures than in the colder regions of the world, and consideration of the thermal conductivity influences within barrier systems may require one or more of a range of mitigation measures to be incorporated in the design and operation for effective pollution control and water resource protection.
Geosynthetic materials are extremely useful and should be a common part of every geotechnical engineer's repertoire, as these materials provide cost savings, simpler construction and greater durability than traditional materials in most cases. How geosynthetics are utilised, particularly relative to their interface interaction with one another and the soils that they are in contact with, is a critical issue in nearly every installation where they are used. Noteworthy science has been undertaken and applied to this issue. Despite these efforts, however, there can be significant confusion on how the measurement and specification of interface friction and direct shear performance should be undertaken, what the construction requirements might be and what specific variables are most critical. This article presents a simple plan for this situation, and more importantly, provides additional resources and references on how to address problematic areas.
It is a sad fact that the collection and transportation of waste costs South Africa over half-a-BILLION rand every year! Therefore the focus of the new R135 million Electron Road Waste Management Facility in Durban is to move waste management towards a more sustainable municipal service - one that meets new national waste regulatory requirements, reduces waste transportation costs, provides employment opportunities, allows waste to be effectively diverted from landfill, and enhances the beneficial recycling of waste.
This facility, which is located north of Durban Central near the Umgeni River, just south of Umgeni Road and just east of the N2 national road, is one of the first large-scale greenfield waste management facilities in South Africa that includes a refuse transfer station (RTS).
When one thinks of Namibia one hardly conjures up images of heavy industry, but rather vast expanses of nothingness. The country is, however, a place of surprises. Just south of the Etosha National Park lies the small town of Otavi where a rebar manufacturing plant is planned.
Lithon Project Consultants (Lithon) (Pty) Ltd was commissioned by Otavi Rebar Manufacturing (Pty) Ltd in 2013 to undertake a Bankable Feasibility Study that complies with World Bank standards, for the construction of a 150 000 ton per year rebar manufacturing plant. The study includes an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, as well as the compilation of an Environmental Management Programme (EMP) for the construction and operation of the proposed plant. Internal and external stakeholders contributing to the study are diverse and range from the Town Council, Ministries, environmental interest groups and local communities.
Assessing the environmental impact of projects has become an ever more specialised role, but fortunately not an isolated one, as civil engineers increasingly become versed in the ups and downs of environmental compliance.
Conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) involves the setting of parameters in the pursuit of environmentally sustainable development - never an easy task when taking project implementation time frames and budgets into account - and especially when the location is in a sensitive and complex environment, like a coastline.
The University of Cape Town, in collaboration with the University of Stellenbosch, executed an interdisciplinary investigation into the linkages between transportation, the environment, climate change, hydrology, agriculture and food security in the Letaba catchment in the Limpopo Province. The project was funded by the Africa Community Access Programme (AFCAP). Based on the links established, the (direct and indirect) consequences of planned transportation development in the region were investigated. Figure 1 provides an overview of the study methodology.
This is the first in a series of articles on dispute boards. This article briefly describes what dispute boards are, why they are needed, and their distinguishing features, history and advantages. Subsequent articles will cover the different types of dispute boards, their operation and avoidance role.
Every year The Concrete Institute receives many queries on testing of concrete, mostly about testing for compressive strength. From these it would appear that many in the construction industry do not fully understand the importance of testing, the significance of test procedures and the interpretation of test results. In this article the core test will be discussed (also see article on cube testing on page 54, Civil Engineering, July 2014).
South Africa has seen a number of valuable contributions on its civil engineering history in recent years. A new book by Dennis Walters, consulting structural engineer from East London, has recently taken its place amongst the finest of these publications. Walters picked the life of English engineer Joseph Newey and his bridge-building career in the Eastern Cape as focal points, but the book offers much more than a narrow biography and a sterile catalogue of completed bridges.
While numerous professional organisations and interest groups currently exist in the engineering space in South Africa, collaboration and coordination are lacking, with each group only addressing the immediate needs of their active members. EWB-SA is the first organisation in the engineering environment that appeals to engineering and built environment professionals on an all-encompassing basis.
The motivation to write this piece stems from the experiences of many who are, or have been, in similar positions. I am sure most young engineers, technologists and technicians have all gone through this - that period when nothing seems to be going your way. Despite all your efforts to show interest, no job interviews seem to come through. All you get is that dreaded response assuring you that your details are being kept on record and that you will be contacted as soon as suitable positions become available. You have applied for all the available jobs, but you seldom get on the shortlist. Sometimes you do get on the list only to fall out at that last hurdle. It is worse when you think you have what is needed for the job available, but still cannot land that position. You read about the apparent lack of skilled professionals, and it all seems like a farce to you.
During the course of the year, the members of the SAICE Young Members Panel (YMP) again took their popular roadshow to a number of universities and universities of technology. The roadshows not only help to familiarise university students with SAICE and the civil engineering profession, but during these shows students are also introduced to current trends in civil engineering, and are advised on how to optimise their time at university. The aim of all these initiatives is to contribute towards students' preparation for their careers as professionals.