“A sustainable infrastructure solution is required to reignite South Africa’s economy after Covid-19,” says Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) CEO Chris Campbell.
Many municipalities are incapable of handling the infrastructure procurement process from inception to completion, owing to the lack of qualified staff.
“It is, therefore, in the best interest of these municipalities to join forces with other municipalities to pool resources and achieve a better outcome,” he explains.
Campbell estimates that, of the about 270 local municipalities in South Africa, only about 70 have the expertise to operate the municipality successfully.
Consequently, when considering the capacity constraints in terms of technically qualified staff, the bulk of the engineering capacity that used to be in the public sector now works in the private sector.
“It makes sense to use private-sector capacity on a good governance model basis.” This will assist in supplementing and complementing the limitations in capacity that the public sector is experiencing. Additionally, it also encompasses the deliberate objective of re-establishing what many refer to as “a capable State”.
“One could define a capable State as a system of government that functions with relative morality to the benifit of all of society and is not being influenced by ideological or political patronage as a motivating factor when dealing with infrastructure project procurement and implementation,” explains Campbell.
It is the aim of and, ultimately, longstanding goal of Cesa that the public and private sectors can work together as a collective in a mutually symbiotic relationship.
“The country needs to map out a development and delivery strategy for the short term to meet the immediate needs of the economy and the industry, and for the long term in respect of sustainability.
“To achieve this, mutuality is key, and will facilitate the betterment of South Africa’s economy and infrastructure,” he points out.
"The industry must try to get out of what has been a feast or famine cycle of investment and rather have a more reliable, steady state type of process."
Campbell was speaking during the virtual Ministerial roundtable discussion on water, sanitation and human settlements during the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa in June.