The implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP) – government’s long-term strategy for building infrastructure, creating employment opportunities and developing the country – will create ample business opportunities for the local steel construction industry, says steel construction industry body the Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (Saisc).
Saisc CEO Paolo Trinchero tells Engineering News that the construction projects envisioned in the NDP represent a significant opportunity for the steel construction industry, as steel, which provides a cost effective, energy efficient and quick method of constructing quality buildings, will be the material of choice in many infrastructure construction projects.
“The industry is currently quite depressed – the recent platinum and metals and engineering strikes, among others, have taken their toll. We are, however, positive about the future and the implementation of the NDP will contribute to job creation in the steel construction industry.
“There is certainly no doubt about the capabilities of the local steel construction industry, which is proven by the construction of the 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums and currently the construction of parastatal Eskom’s power stations and many other iconic structures,” he explains.
Trinchero adds that there has also been high demand in the local steel industry from the export market, particularly from other African countries.
He says one of Saisc’s main focus areas is training professionals in steel construction.
“The institute is passionate about ensuring that there are sufficient skills in the industry. We offer various training courses to construction professionals, where we expose architects, fabricators and engineers to the latest steel construction developments,” Trinchero elaborates.
The institute is also partnering with various higher education institutions, where it offers lecturing and training services, as well as funding for postgraduate students.
2014 Steel Awards
Saisc education director Spencer Erling says many of the entries for the 2014 Steel Awards, to be held on September 18 in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban simultaneously, reflect how steel has become the material of choice in social investment-type projects.
“This is largely because of savings gained through the speed of construction and the generally more efficient construction processes that steel offers, compared with other materials,” Erling explains.
He adds that, since the 2007 establishment of the awards – which aim to commend achievements in the use of steel for construction – local architects and engineers have increasingly been provided with the opportunity to exercise their abilities to build aesthetic steel structures.
Erling highlights three projects that have attracted the attention of this year’s judging panel – the Tugela river bridge, in KwaZulu-Natal; the American International School of Johannesburg’s (AISJ’s) aquatic centre and the Lutheran Church Outreach Foundation’s Hillbrow dance hall, both in Gauteng.
The Tugela river bridge, developed and owned by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport, consists of a 134-m-long structural steel suspension bridge. The suspension portion comprises two equal spans of 60 m, constructed over the 8-m-deep Tugela river at Kwajolwayo, in the Msinga rural area.
The bridge provides a passage over the Tugela river for people residing on the north and south banks.
The AISJ’s aquatic centre is a 1 400 m² facility, which features a six-lane, 25 m swimming pool, with an additional shallow pool for teaching purposes, as well as enclosed changing rooms, office and storage space, and a mechanical room.
The facility incorporates special design features that take environmental, operational and economic factors into account. These features include the erection of tensile structures and mechanical louvres on the facade, solar panels on the roofing structure and a hybrid solar and gas heating system for the changing rooms.
The tubular steel frame of the building comprises 273-mm-diameter circular hollow sections in a scissor-type geometric arrangement.
The Hillbrow dance hall serves the local community and houses offices for the Lutheran Church.
Light-steel-frame construction was chosen for the project because of the structural requirements of building a three-storey building on top of an existing basement, concludes Erling.