Apr 20, 2012
Fake engineers making a mockery of ECSA’s mission statementBack
© Reuse this
In the electrical engineering profession, it is very similar. There are many people out there who claim to be engineers. Heck, they even have test meters and sound-level meters and computers and stuff to prove it. The fact is, like the fake doctor, they can get away with it most of the time. The problem comes when there is a real electrical problem they do not know how to deal with. But here is the crucial difference between the fake doctor and the fake engineer – the fake engineer does not get caught out. When the motor burns out because the protection setting was wrong or the transformer fails because the Buchholz protection is not connected or the cable to the power factor correction melts because the ‘engineer’ did not allow for the correct cable size, he or she turns to the client and, in effect, says, well, stuff fails, what can you do?
The client does not know any better and, instead of booting the engineer off the site, pays an additional fee to fix the broken- down equipment and for the extra time the engineer will require to do this. I know this because I have seen it. I was once on a site where the so-called engineer (employed by a contractor) allowed the contractor to push a fish tape through the busbar compartment of a switchboard, which resulted in an explosion and loss of supply to the whole factory – fortunately, without loss of life.
I told the fake engineer to take his staff off the site and I was drafting a letter to the Department of Labour when I was called to a meeting – with the client and the fake engineer and the contractor. The fake engineer said I was overreacting. The client seemed to agree. I asked the fake engineer if he actually had the qualifica- tions he pretended to have because no qualified engineer could be so stupid as to allow what had happened.
Incredibly, the client said that he was convinced it was all an accident (he implied I was a bit too ‘old school’) and the whole lot went on with the contract. This really happened. Fortunately, neither I nor the client have spoken since, for which I am grateful.
There ought to be a body which stops this sort of thing from happening. The good news is that there is such a body. It is called the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). I have just paid my ECSA dues of about R1 200 a year and, by my count, I have been paying dues for 28 years.
The mission statement of ECSA says: “Our mission is to create the circum- stances in which society is confident that the engineering profession in South Africa is able to carry out the functions necessary for the socioeconomic growth in the country.”
And I can tell you that, for the last 28 years, ECSA has never been behind any legisla- tion which makes it illegal to call yourself an electrical engineer, a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer, and so on. Further ECSA has never been behind any legislation which makes it illegal for a person who is not an electrical engineer to design anything (some civil construction design is covered).
So the fake engineer can just lie about qualifications without breaking any law. Now I’ve been harping on this for about 20 years and nothing happens. But, until ECSA does something, the statement that its mission is to “create circumstances in which society is confident that the engineer- ing profession in South Africa is able to carry out the functions necessary” makes me wonder what those circumstances will be, actually.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Terry Mackenzie-Hoy News
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While economic forecasts for the African continent are most favourable, African airlines may not be able to benefit from the expected growth in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi has warned....
The Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) will need to change substantially post 2020, says Metair Investments South African operations COO Ken Lello. “We must not make tweaks. We have to change. What we are doing is not sustainable.”
Banking group Absa’s forecast is for the rand to end the year at around R13 against the dollar, weakening further to R13.50 by 2016, says Absa sectoral analyst Jacques du Toit. He warns that possible interest rate hikes in the US may see capital being pulled from...
The Dispute Resolution Centre at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is now open to handle party-to-party disputes. The BCCEI represents the interests of all level four to nine Construction Industry Development Board companies.
Communications technology firm Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa head Fredrik Jejdling says the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility has been integrated into all facets of its operations, which has provided it with sustainable revenue...