Mary Molefe and Sakina Mukandawire work at SAICE National Office. They are charming and friendly, and reliable like clockwork. It is their pride to keep our offices clean and impressive. I have had the privilege of Mary and Sakina joining me for an exclusive meeting with the Public Protector recently. It made my heart dance to see how well they represented SAICE when they addressed Advocate Thuli Madonsela.
One of Renico Plant Hire's pay-off lines - the right equipment, at the right time, at the right price - perfectly embodies why it is widely regarded as one of the leading plant hire companies in the country.
What can be said about a year with such dynamics, travel, new friendships, gifts, team building and knowledge sharing? The Institution is certainly not in turmoil; in fact, it is in a state of growth, change and renewed spirit. Perhaps this is a reflection of certain parts of our industry. Whilst some would disagree, saying that we are in a down cycle, even a depressed cycle, others, particularly in the SMME segment, are busy.
While striving for excellence, SAICE's young members face many frustrations in their work environment, succinctly described here by one such young member, who is calling fellow young engineers to "come together today to save our tomorrow".
The South African economy is a small 'open' economy, and inevitably international developments will affect the local economy - good and bad. Currently international trends have a mostly undesirable effect on the local economy, but more concerning is that it seems as if we are doing our best to exacerbate a deteriorating situation.
Two major international developments are currently at play.
The past year ended up being a tough year for our industry, resulting from low demand levels and the resultant over-provision of productive capacity. Several sub-sectors within the industry had to implement severe cost-cutting measures, including the retrenchment of scarce and valuable experienced engineering staff.
"A challenging year" is how Richard Vries, Group CEO of GIBB, described the past year for South Africa's largest black-owned engineering and architecture firm in an exclusive interview conducted for our magazine by Rowan Sewchurran.
This is a personal point of view by a practising geotechnical engineer of developments over the past few years and the challenges we face in the year to come. This perspective concentrates on the state of the industry from a technical rather than economic / commercial perspective.
Geotechnical engineering in South Africa has a proud heritage, and there is an enormous depth of both knowledge and experience in the industry. Although we have much to be proud of, there is a trend of decreasing standards in geotechnical investigation, design and construction practices. This article explores some of the reasons for this decline and what needs to be done to rectify the situation.
Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) has about 537 member firms, employing some 24 366 personnel. CESA's Biannual Economic Capacity Survey (BECS) for January to June 2015, released recently, indicates that fee earnings increased by around 1.2%, against an expected decrease of between 3% and 5%.
The Southern Africa Readymix Association (SARMA) is predicting a slow but steady recovery in the construction industry over the next five years, with gradually returning business confidence driving new investments in the industry and its key suppliers.
There has been a changing of the guard at Franki Africa, with Errol Braithwaite taking over as Managing Director from Roy McLintock, who will be retiring at the end of the year. According to Errol and Roy the transition has been a very smooth one, and, thanks to the fact that the company has firm foundations, with good people, sound financial management and world-class technologies, it continues running like a well-oiled machine.
Over two years ago I wrote an article titled, Infrastructure Finance - an Alternative, suggesting a different funding approach post the financial crisis experienced a number of years before. So what has changed since then, and is there still scope to deliver on "government's big drive to implement 18 Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs), clustering more than 150 smaller infrastructure projects, with an estimated R4 trillion expenditure"? (Pautz 2013)
In a recent speech in Cape Town, former president of South Africa, FW de Klerk, spoke about why business should continue to invest in South Africa, saying that there are several reasons for confidence, despite the country's travails. The article below is a summary of that speech, reproduced here with the kind permission of the FW de Klerk Foundation.
The CMP (Construction Management Programme) was again hosted at Stellenbosch University during the winter of 2015. The CMP is a prestigious, intensive four-week programme for middle managers operational in the development of civil infrastructure. The course is supported by several academic institutions, and is held annually over four weeks during the winter vacation.
The major milestones achieved in the last twelve months by the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) should not only be seen as ground-breaking in terms of a bargaining council, but should also be recognised for the benefits that the civil engineering sector will see, both in the short and long term.
The November 2014 edition of our magazine was the sixth attempt at presenting the formidable network of engineering bodies that SAICE liaises with on behalf of its members. Again the response from our readers was so encouraging that we decided to continue publishing an updated version every year. For this year we have updated the information where necessary, and where possible, and retained the list of all the tertiary institutions in South Africa where civil engineering can be studied (this list seems to be popular with our readers).
The engineering profession approached government in the 1960s to request legislation to regulate the profession. The result was that the South African Council for Professional Engineers (SACPE) was established in 1969.
Although this structure served the profession very well, it became clear that the changing world and the changing political dispensation in South Africa would necessitate substantial modifications. In 1992 SAICE approached SACPE to suggest a way forward in the new democratic dispensation that would be coming about in 1994. The main thrust was to ensure that South African engineering education and professional status would be recognised in subsequent years.
SAICE's networking on an international level took off in 1994 during the ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers) convention in Atlanta when a SAICE delegation was invited to attend the annual ASCE International Round Table. During that visit SAICE's President and Executive Director at the time, Brian Bruce and Dawie Botha respectively, not only had the opportunity to network with engineering institutions from across the world, but for the first time ever they met African colleagues.