The South African Institution of Civil Engineering (Saice) supports the call by the built environment industry for it to be designated as an essential service that can be among the first to restart operations once the lockdown restrictions in South Africa start easing in early May.
Before Covid-19 hit local shores, the South African built environment industry faced significant economic challenges that had resulted in business closures and loss of employment for many in the industry.
As a result of the decision taken by government to implement a five-week nationwide lockdown, many sectors of the economy have been put on hold – compromising the built environment industry with respect to limiting projects and employment of thousands of employees.
Saice forms part of the Construction Covid-19 Rapid Response Task Team, which is an industry grouping that was convened to charter a plan to address current and future threats to the built environment industry.
The task team integrates, on a voluntary basis, those concerned members of the built environment which for now comprise the Master Builders South Africa, Association of South African Quantity Surveyors, Western Cape Property Development Forum, South African Institute of Architects, Black Business Council in the Built Environment, Consulting Engineers of South Africa, Association of Construction Project Managers, South African Black Technical and Allied Careers Organisation, South African Women in Construction, The Concrete Institute of South Africa and Cox Yeats Attorneys, of which Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal had been nominated as the convenor.
The built environment industry has the potential to create employment and further mitigate the catastrophic effects of Covid-19 on the South African economy, says Saice.
The institute adds that the task team has made an urgent appeal to reactivate various sectors of the built environment making up the construction industry. These include sites that were at various stages of completion when the lockdown came into effect on March 27.
“Following the reactivation of these sites, we are requesting for the phased re-opening of the built environment industry as soon as possible.
“Saice supports the industry’s call for activation of planned public infrastructure spending as announced in the medium-term expenditure framework, for positive knock-on effects on economic recovery and growth through the multiplier effect, as well as the reactivation of the various sectors of the construction industry in an attempt to minimise the economic impact on the construction industry and reduce the loss of employment of hundreds who serve the industry.”
Saice further requests its members that participate in the built environment professions to participate in the resurrection of the economy, with the aim of improving the quality of life of fellow South Africans.
“Not all of us are fortunate to have been trained and educated in the built environment, making us realise how significant we are at this time when our country needs us to give back.
“We must not exploit opportunities for self-gain but seek to ensure that we create robust, value-for-money assets, which will serve our communities. As we rise to serve our fellow South Africans we should realise that we have enormous power in our diversity that will show mankind how to live, grow and exist in peace and harmony, a lesson that many still have to learn,” says Saice CE Vishaal Lutchman.
Saice, through its members, will support government initiatives in the form of hard and diligent efforts, commitment to the cause, advice in facilitating rapid capacity building in the built environment industry, new technology solutions, development of back to work protocols, act as a think tank and support planned infrastructure stimulus initiatives.