The construction industry can emerge stronger after Covid-19, but new business models will need to be developed to keep the industry and the country afloat in the medium- and long-term, says surface mining industry association Aggregate and Sand Producers Association of Southern Africa (Aspasa) director Nico Pienaar.
“The global pandemic has led many of the industry’s top performers to re-strategise their future paths and realign them with the new normal that is slowly emerging from the Covid-19 ashes. As the country [is in] the third wave, it is becoming painfully obvious that there will be no return to the old ways any time soon.”
Some of the trends emerging from the pandemic include the unlocking of several high-profile government infrastructure projects, including large-scale road, rail, harbours and other building contracts and a renewed focus on training including access to a host of training courses on digital platforms.
Further, there is a strong upsurge in the use of technology and social media to communicate with internal and external stakeholders and more professional dealings between parties involved in construction projects, with an emphasis on the terms and conditions of contracts and tighter specifications for the supply of quality products and services.
Additionally, there is also better financial management of projects to ensure timeous payments and safeguard cash flows throughout the entire construction supply chain.
The adoption of new strategies that take into consideration the changed landscape of the South African economy and automation of processes in the processing and manufacture of construction materials.
“These are just some of the measures that are being taken across the industry to ensure the survival of the sector, as well as develop required infrastructure. Close communication between companies and clients, as well as government and industry bodies, will be required to ensure all role-players remain updated and are aware of future requirements for upcoming and ongoing projects.
“As long as there is constant communication between role-players and everyone knows what is required from their business, industry, suppliers and customers, then we can all work together to rebuild the industry and uphold the economy. Cooperation and communication can ensure that resources within the industry are preserved and so ensure the success of future projects,” says Pienaar.
There will be a strong rebound in the industry once the country has the pandemic under control and Aspasa members need to be ready to supply all the materials and services that will be required to enable the swelling project numbers to be completed on time.
The companies that have planned for this eventuality will be the ones that will benefit the most, he emphasises.
“The construction and surface mining industries are among the biggest employers in the country and the future success of the industry is a national prerogative. Government, developers and stakeholders in major projects should support communications and ensure that the raw materials and skills required on site are preserved, documented and available when needed,” says Pienaar.