There is a backlog of sufficient planned new bulk water infrastructure projects in South Africa which could potentially provide increased opportunities for engineering consultants, such as AECOM, to become involved in more infrastructure development, says AECOM water business line director Werner Comrie.
“Many of the new identified large projects have been delayed for implementation and municipalities are also battling to provide water services. There is also a crisis in ageing infrastructure, which requires maintenance, refurbishment or replacing.”
This includes large dams, hydropower development, water and wastewater treatment, water conveyance and distribution, stormwater management and water resilience.
“The opportunities for growth are there, with the backlog described in the National Water and Sanitation Masterplan developed by the Department of Water and Sanitation last year. These plans need action to implement,” he states.
Comrie indicates AECOM’s typical expertise in water infrastructure design, supervision and project management with reference to its involvement as engineer for the City of Tshwane’s Temba Water Treatment Works in Soshanguve, Pretoria.
“This project is in the commissioning phase and will make a major contribution to improving the quality of the drinking water in the far northern part of the city,” he outlines.
AECOM is also the engineer for the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority for the development of the Polihali western access road. The road will provide access to the Polihali dam construction site, which forms part of the second phase of the Lesotho Highlands Water project.
Construction of this road will start in the second half of this year.
AECOM is further involved in various projects in dams, wastewater treatment, industrial water use, water supply and stormwater management across South Africa and the rest of the continent.
The needs and demands are there and the backlog on infrastructure is growing. This amplifies the requirement for funding, efficient decision-making, streamlined procurement processes and quality engineering, asserts Comrie.
“If all the national and master planning that has been done is programmed for execution, there will be a lot to do. “We remain positive that this will be the case and are pleased to see that infrastructure development is being prioritised as a primary driver of job creation and economic growth,” he states.
Comrie continues by adding that, when the industry recovers, the opportunities for transformation will be endless. “Recruitment could then be focused on targeting the designated groups for employment and development. If the industry remains suppressed, we cannot make the progress we need to. Unfortunately that is one of the main reasons why the consultancy industry has battled to show sufficient progress on transformation during recent years. “Lack of projects restricts the potential to provide jobs to qualifying young professionals, and to build the capability of the industry to meet anticipated demand amid the future economic growth in the country.”