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RMF resolves to collaborate, train and test

13th April 2023

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online

     

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Several resolutions emerged from the Road Maintenance Forum's (RMF’s) virtual workshop, held on April 13, which coincided with International Road Maintenance Day.

The RMF is a joint initiative by Consulting Engineers South Africa, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa, the South African Road Federation (SARF), the Society for Asphalt Technology, the South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors, the South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) and the Southern African Bitumen Association (Sabita).

It caters to all persons involved in the road maintenance sector and was aimed at addressing the relevant issues impacting on road maintenance operations in South Africa.

The first resolution proposed by the RMF was the formation of a working group of experts, comprising of representatives from the road authorities, contractors, consulting engineers and industry bodies to create a standard document that can be used universally for road maintenance activities.

This resolution came as a result of the identified issue that between Sanral, provincial road departments and metropolitan roads agencies there are myriad of pro forma contract documents, which vary considerably in content. Moreover, it was found that there may even be some authorities with no pro forma contract documents.

In terms of training, one of the resolutions was that Sanral and the SARF would establish a Quality Council for Trades and Occupations-accredited routine road maintenance (RRM) qualification with training provider Abeeda & Associates.

Abeeda & Associates founder Abeeda Holdstock outlined that the company had undertaken considerable work already in developing this qualification, a professional certificate for RRM; however, there was still more to be done before it was complete and people could participate.

Another resolution with regard to training was that the SARF and Sabita would engage further with education and training college Tjeka Training Southern Region manager Gawie Burger to take the entity’s road maintenance training course further. This would be explored at the next RMF workshop.

Speakers emphasised that the country needed a well-trained and skilled labour force.

Therewas also a need for more frequent monitoring of roads that had exceeded their original design life.

It was also suggested that provinces should spend enough of their budget to ensure labour was well compensated.

Also, metros need to manage available skills and employ skilled people.

On the topic of quality testing, it was resolved that State testing labs needed to collaborate and share standard documents for ISO 17025 accreditation.

It was noted that this accreditation was pricey, owing to fees, accreditation costs and staff capacity requirements.

Also, a dedicated team was needed at each facility to make it work.

Therefore, collaboration between State facilities to standardise the process could result in cost savings, while still enabling each facility to be independent, the speakers suggested

Meanwhile, Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) public relations and stakeholder engagements head Ayanda Ntshingila emphasised that one of the biggest problems was the issue of ageing infrastructure.

However, she highlighted some progress, noting that in the third quarter, in terms of maintenance, the JRA repaired 7 647 potholes; unblocked and cleaned 945 kerb inlets; replaced 176 manhole covers; and repaired 2 871 guardrails.

The JRA is still, however, behind its targets, and has therefore partnered with the private sector, mainly through the Joburg Pothole Patrol Initiative, which is an app where potholes can be reported and managed.

She indicated that a considerable number of potholes had been fixed owing to this initiative, 40 jobs had been created for youth, and Johannesburg and the rest of Gauteng had seen a 45% increase in reporting of potholes.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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