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Breaking ground on key infrastructure projects would be ‘immune booster’ for ailing economy

Sugen Pillay

Sugen Pillay

Photo by Creamer Media's Donna Slater

3rd February 2021

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) believes that visible progress on a select number of high-profile infrastructure projects in 2021 could serve as an “immune booster” for South Africa’s ailing economy and provide impetus for a much-needed recovery in investor confidence.

Presenting CESA’s yearly presidential message on Wednesday, Sugen Pillay argued that breaking ground on some of the 50-plus Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) already announced and gazetted by government could also build public trust and boost service delivery.

He said he was encouraged by the progress being made, through the Sustainable Infrastructure Development System (SIDS) methodology, in securing investors for the projects and said project professionals stood ready to lend their support.

“The identified SIPs will play a great role in economic recovery, but only if they break ground,” Pillay said during his virtual address.

“As we rebuild, we must consider the pace of change, which is currently too slow. There is a need for speed in the infrastructure development plan, although it must be done carefully, or it will fuel corruption.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa had placed infrastructure at the centre of the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, which was launched in 2020 in response to the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated lockdowns.

A structure known as Infrastructure South Africa had since been formed to oversee project preparation and packaging, as well as funding pathways for the gazetted projects, using the SIDS methodology to help guide and prioritise the delivery of bankable projects.

Pillay was optimistic of some infrastructure progress during 2021, but also cautioned that projects might be delayed in favour of the vaccine roll-out, which he described as the most pressing priority facing the country.

“CESA encourages the industry to be patient and understanding as resources are diverted to funding the vaccine initiative.”

He also suggested that CESA members had the skills and expertise to assist government in the roll-out of the vaccine programme.

“While we may not be able to contribute directly to the health-related aspects, we can most certainly contribute to the areas of project management and logistics management,” he said, indicating that CESA was already providing input through Business Unity South Africa and Business for South Africa.

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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