1998 was undoubtedly a dramatic year for developments in our labour law. Impending labour law legislation to give effect to employment equity is daunting for the employer, to say the least. Already parliament has passed the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, although its operation has been suspended by the Minister of Labour pending further investigation into certain aspects of the Act. Reports say that the suspension will be for about six months. The Act will thus come into force in the latter part of this year, probably in more or less the form in which it is now.
Recently there has been a spurt of activity in the mountain areas of Basutoland. For decades the traditional mode of transport has been on horseback and by mule pack trains. The narrow bridle tracks zigzagging up the near vertical escarpments have to be seen to be believed. I shall never forget my initial experience in ascending them, Seated somewhat insecurely for the first time in 20 years on the back of a so-called Basutoland pony, we commenced the ascent.
The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cape Town (UCT) is involved in research in a number of diverse fields and also interacts with other research groups and institutions such as CERECAM, the Universities of the Witwatersrand, Stellenbosch and Pretoria, the Cement and Concrete Institute, the Water Research Commission, the CSIR, the university's Freshwater Unit and Departments of Marine Zoology and Archaeology, geographical information systems organisations and Geological Survey. Most of the work is applied research from practice and of direct benefit to designers, contractors and the industry on the one hand and the students and staff, who develop high-level expertise, on the other.
Much work remains to be done developing materials for a variety of civil engineering applications Materials are ever-present in our activities: without them we would have nothing to construct with. For many, though, they are means to ends, not subjects worthy of study in their own right. We tend be over-familiar with them and have little of the detailed understanding needed to address the concepts underlying existing and emergent materials. 'What new materials are available for designers and constructors?' is a temptingly simple question asked by engineer, architect or client, but it may not bring the straightforward response expected.
The present South African Road System - its size, the traffic which uses it, the past investment and current expenditure on it is outlined. Estimates are given of the total motor vehicle mileage travelled annually on the rural and urban portions of the system and expenditures on different types of road per vehicle mile travelled are compared.
In September, 1953, the Author attended a harbour engineering congress in Rome. In the paper an attempt is made to present some of the points discussed, which appeared to be of particular interest. The field is large and it is possible to summarize only very briefly the salient points of the various subjects dealt with. At the conclusion of the congress, the Author visited several hydraulic laboratories on the Continent and in Britain, and some notes on these, which it is hoped may prove of interest and value, are included.