The 2015 Conference on Asphalt Pavements for Southern Africa’s (Capsa’s) theme of technology delivering quality and value is intended to demonstrate the industry’s willingness to strive for value creation for all stakeholders through the delivery of excellence and quality, says event organiser the South African Bitumen Association (Sabita).
Capsa will take place from August 16 to 19 at Sun City, in the North West. About 500 delegates, 30 sponsors and 50 exhibitors are expected to attend the conference, which, according to several industry players, has attracted international interest and can be regarded as one of Africa’s most significant events for the road construction, rehabilitation, asphalt and bitumen sectors.
“As an event that takes place every four years, Capsa showcases the latest innovations in operations and technology in the road sector dealing with bituminous products and, in so doing, it promotes the most cost-effective solutions for roads provision and maintenance,” says Sabita CEO Saied Solomons.
He notes that, while Capsa 2011 focused on sustainable practices in the industry, Capsa 2015 is poised to advance and entrench ground-breaking practice in several fields, given the recent and current vigour in research and development in various road industry sectors.
“This year’s conference will explore innovative practice and advance the implementation of pavement engineering practice,” Solomons suggests.
This year’s conference will focus on enhancing the structural design of flexible pavements in new construction and rehabilitation methods.
Subtopics will include advancing modern design methods, material responses and damage modelling, and traffic-loading characterisation; designing asphalt layers and spray seals to ensure optimal application and adequate performance, which will include hot mix, warm mix, cold, recycled and high-performance asphalt, spray seals, and links with structural design; and optimising binder use.
There will also be a focus on advancing sustainable practices in the manufacture and application of bituminous products, as well as construction, rehabilitation and sealing practice for high efficiency levels. Low-volume surfaced-roads technology will consider socioeconomic warrants, optimal exploitation of natural materials, and special considerations for pavement and material design.
Solomons further points out that, in developing a programme for Capsa 2015, the steering committee also considered topical issues, such as the provision of pavement infrastructure for public transport – such as the bus rapid transit systems being implemented in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Rustenburg, Pretoria and Durban – and nonmotorised transport.
Other significant road construction and rehabilitation projects currently under way in South Africa include the three-phase R900-million Southern Region construction project, which constitutes the upgrade of a 47 km stretch of the N2 highway between Grahamstown and the Fish River pass, in the Eastern Cape.
Meanwhile, the Department of Roads and Transport has allocated R6.6-billion for its core programmes for the 2015/16 financial year, with R2.26-billion allocated to infrastructure.
Solomons believes that the South African roads industry is blessed with “excellent engineers and operators”, but says the sector will benefit significantly if there is more certainty about the funding method for the provision and maintenance of roads.
“The existing funding model has not been able to keep pace with the burgeoning growth in vehicle and road use which, in turn, leads to severe maintenance and capacity backlogs.”
Moreover, the lack of information for long-term planning is a challenge. “With the medium- term expenditure framework covering only a three-year out- look, planning is difficult; this also hampers investment, which negatively impacts on cost competitiveness,” he further emphasises.
While Solomons believes the solution would have to be crafted at a mostly political level, he also posits that the general public should be made more aware of the critical role that roads play in everyday life and that “as users, they pay for a good road, whether they have it or not”.
“The consequences of poorly maintained roads and insufficient capacity are costly traffic jams and increased vehicle-user costs,” he states.