New procurement rules for power pylons to create some 1 500 jobs

28th February 2012

By: Idéle Esterhuizen


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The designation of power pylons under government’s preferential procurement rules would create an estimated 1 500 new jobs, Southern African Institute of Steel Construction (SAISC) industry development executive Kobus de Beer said.

Under new regulations associated with the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) could stipulate sectors and products that departments, agencies and State-owned enterprises had to procure from local manufacturers, or providers.

Besides power pylons, the ‘first wave’ of designated products also included rolling stock, buses, canned vegetables, clothing, textiles, footwear and leather products and set-top boxes.

Further designated products would follow this year.

De Beer said SAISC submitted an application and motivation to the DTI for power pylons to be given ‘designated’ status, as imports were hurting the local industry.

“The past few years saw producers scaling down, retrenching and closing down operations in spite of the growing demand for new transmission lines from Eskom, mainly as a result of imported products of acceptable quality from the Far East being offered at subsidised prices.”

Eskom would require more than 420 000 t, an average of some 42 000 t/y, of new power pylon steelwork between 2012 and 2021, SAISC said, citing the utility’s Transmission Ten Year Development Plan, which sets out details of its requirements for new extensions of the 400 kV and 765 kV transmission network, as well as for the new lines needed to transmit electricity from the new Medupi and Kusile power stations.

Further, the industry anticipated similar tonnages of power pylon steelwork would be needed to repair, maintain and replace existing power lines.

However, these requirements would not be dispersed uniformly and would provide an opportunity to spread the load over the period.

De Beer stated that developments in South Africa’s neighbouring countries added a further demand for transmission lines and South Africa’s proximity and reputation gave it a distinct advantage.

SAISC calculated that the new procurement requirements would result in between 1 200 and 1 500 full-time jobs being created. These jobs represent a variety of skills, including, among others, boilermakers, welders, electricians, millwrights, drilling operators, cropping machine operators, plasma cutters, cutting torch operators, slingers, forklift drivers, galvanizing plant operators, crane drivers, handlers and truck drivers, as well as various services such as security, dispatching and cleaning.

“Many further skills are required for the building of the power lines, as well as the fitting of ancillary equipment,” he noted.

De Beer added that the designated sectors under the PPPFA were not intended to take the place of the various other government efforts to encourage local procurement and supplier development strategies, but rather to support these.

The designation also set out specific recommendations for ensuring competition among domestic producers and value for money for the State.

“It is important that producers continue to strive for competitiveness to encourage all clients investing in infrastructure to create decent local jobs through local procurement,” De Beer said.

Edited by Mariaan Webb
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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