After what has been months of uncertainty about when new projects will come to tender or whether awarded projects will progress, construction company Concor notes that work continues apace on its contracts spread across the construction, infrastructure, civils and mining sectors.
Concor CEO Lucas Tseki says the company remains strongly positioned to secure several large projects and hopes to announce these awards in the near future.
“Our strong balance sheet underpins our capability as a leading black-owned construction business, and while we are proud of our 118-year legacy, as a transformed organisation we now bring the skills sets, expertise and flexibility to deliver world-class projects in South Africa.”
Looking forward to the next round of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP), he notes that Concor is completing its tenth wind farm project – Roggeveld Wind Farm in the Karoo.
Constructed across the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape for a combined Concor own works value of R2.5-billion, these wind farms will contribute more than 1 100 MW to the national grid.
“Work on extending the continuous ash disposal facilities at both Eskom’s Majuba and Kendal power stations continues,” Tseki says. These projects focus on the construction of a continuous ash lined dump and associated infrastructure for a contract value of R1.2-billion.
In the civils sector, Concor, in joint venture with Mota Engil Construction, is constructing the Msikaba bridge in the Eastern Cape for a contract value of R1.6-billion.
Meanwhile, Concor is continuing work on the social housing component, or Phase 1, of its Conradie Better Living Model project, in the Western Cape, together with the provincial government.
The project is taking shape over the formerly derelict site of the Conradie Hospital, located close to the Pinelands and Thornton suburbs. The site is being redeveloped into an integrated, sustainable and affordable residential-led mixed-use precinct, explains Tseki.
The R5-billion project entails the construction of about 2 000 social housing units and 4 000 marketable homes on the 22 ha site and about 15 000 m2 of retail space.
The site will also feature 60 000 m2 of commercial space, a 160-room hotel and conference centre, a school for 1 200 learners, a community hall, sports facilities, a public library and a park.
Concor’s scope of work on site includes all the town planning, detailed designs, sales and marketing, funding, construction and handover to end-users.
Tseki says the company is concerned by delays in the South African National Roads Agency Limited’s (Sanral’s) tender award process for roads and bridges across the country, as well as by Airports Company South Africa’s (ACSA’s) slashing its planned capital expenditure of R17.9-billion over the next three years to R1-billionayear and limited to critical compliance related maintenance.
The company worked throughout December last year on submissions for State-owned enterprises Sanral, Eskom, Transnet Durban Port deepening and ACSA tenders. “We believed that the sector was reaching a turning point, with the public sector showing commitment towards infrastructure spending, but Covid-19 had thrown a spanner in the works for ACSA and Sanral.”
ACSA’s capital expenditure programme included the realignment of the runway as well as building a new domestic terminal at Cape Town International Airport, and building of new apron stands at OR Tambo International Airport.
Tseki tells Engineering News that Covid-19, particularly lockdown levels 4 and 5, resulted in Concor’s incurring an R800-million loss production together with the associated revenue, but the pandemic had also made the company “battle hardened”, fitter as a competitor and more efficient as a project deliverer.
He highlights the importance of a diversified business being resilient amid sudden and disruptive changes in a sector, such as during prolonged times of economic hardship.
Tseki says a diversified client base, an extended service offering, more suppliers that can be leveraged, and a wide geographical footprint to diversify operations are essential.
Part of Concor’s full “stress test” analysis, conducted to ensure its survival during the pandemic, were considerations regarding efficiency.
Tseki notes that the company started using more technology on site to drive efficiencies. Increased automation on site has not only improved efficiency but also increased Concor’s engagement with staff.
He quips that the innovative use of technology at construction sites helps to show young people that the sector can be exciting to work in.
Concor has various youth development initiatives in place to attract young people to not only choose construction as a career path but also take science, technology, engineering and mathematics as subjects in school.
For example, the company has a targeted bursary programme aimed at students that are interested in the built environment, and a graduate mentorship programme to absorb graduates as interns. Out-of-school youth can participate in learnerships, which the company also uses to identify talent.
Tseki believes that what the country needs currently is investment in infrastructure projects that can realise housing, places of work and economic growth.