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Cesa underlines importance of collaboration in tackling infrastructure challenges

Cesa president David Leukes

Photo by Creamer Media's Tasneem Bulbulia

National Housing Finance Corporation lending executive manager Tsholofelo Ramotsehoa

Photo by Creamer Media's Tasneem Bulbulia

27th February 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online

     

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There are myriad, well-documented challenges facing the country’s major infrastructure, ranging from the built environment to water and energy, and key to addressing this will be collaboration and decisive leadership.

This was the key message from speakers who participated in member organisation Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (Cesa’s) Gauteng branch meeting, in Midrand, on February 27.

Cesa president David Leukes explained that, to engender decisive leadership, Cesa and its members must lead with vision and purpose, and recognise their role in the global engineering community.

He also called for a fostering of collaboration and knowledge sharing.

However, Leukes emphasised that, as this was pursued, it would also be crucial to address the brain and talent drain, with talent being lost to lucrative international prospects.

He also highlighted the need to strengthen ties with international engineering organisations.

With this being an age of innovation and sustainability, Leukes said the industry had a role to play in promoting sustainable development, embracing digital and automation transformation, investing in education and training for the digital era, and in fostering innovation.

He reiterated Cesa’s call for government to act with urgency in implementing policy, emphasising that collaboration between government and the private sector was critical.

Leukes said it was crucial for government to address investment inhibitors, and to expedite key projects this year.

There is also potential to explore innovative financing models.

Leukes further pointed out the need to address critical infrastructure challenges, with these considerably impacting on citizens and having severe consequences for business.

In this vein, there was the need to foster transparency, accountability and good governance practices across municipalities, he averred.

He also called for mitigation of factors that impact infrastructure, including cable theft and vandalism.

Leukes emphasised that infrastructure development was “non-negotiable”, adding that a robust procurement regulatory framework was critical.

He emphasised the need for transparency, fair competition and adherence to industry standards.

Leukes also called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to take into account advice before signing legislation into law, such as the National Health Insurance Bill, which Cesa voiced its concerns about earlier this year, as well as the Procurement Bill.

In terms of transformation, Leukes said legislation must be reasonable, rational and have consistent criteria. He added that there must be a moral imperative to ensure transformation in the industry, rather than it being merely a legal requirement.

He also called for safeguarding against corruption.

In terms of the industry’s efforts, Leukes emphasised that no one must be left behind, with a focus on protecting lives and livelihoods, and reducing the country’s high and growing unemployment rate, especially among the youth.

He posited that the industry could play a considerable role in addressing this, with it able to create jobs if projects were implemented properly.

Leukes also mentioned the need to prioritise an inclusive approach to infrastructure, with a focus on economic inclusivity for job creation, and for championing of sustainability.

He also highlighted the need for a unified developmental agenda, wherein collaboration was key, with a culture of shared responsibility, reaffirmed commitment to infrastructure development, mobilisation of collective expertise and resources, and a commitment to excellence.

Meanwhile, National Housing Finance Corporation (NHFC) lending executive manager Tsholofelo Ramotsehoa outlined the collaboration opportunities that could be pursued to address the country’s housing backlog, which she said was at a high level, and increasing.  

This includes, firstly, innovative affordable housing solutions, with the cost of housing developments becoming unsustainable in the affordable housing market.

Collaboration opportunities here included developing innovative and cost-effective construction techniques, sustainable materials, and efficient designs to address this housing backlog, she averred.

The second opportunity lies in infrastructure maintenance and upgrades, with there being a need to maintain and upgrade existing housing infrastructure.

As such, collaboration opportunities include the provision of structural assessments, repairs, and retrofitting services to ensure the longevity and safety of existing stock, Ramotsehoa explained.

The third opportunity was in green buildings and sustainability, she indicated, with there being increasing concerns about environmental sustainability and a demand for green building solutions.

Collaboration opportunities here entail provision of renewable energy integration, water conservation systems, and waste management solutions for housing developments, Ramotsehoa highlighted.

She acknowledged that green building and solutions were often costly, however, she said that there were funding instruments available in the market for this.

Lastly, opportunities abound in capacity building and skills development, Ramotsehoa said, with the housing sector generally attracting emerging development who are unable to provide at scale owing to skills and capacity challenges.

Therefore, opportunities include the provision of deal packaging and mentoring support services to emerging developers, she said.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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