Women’s representative organisation South African Women in Construc-tion (Sawic) visited cement manu- facturer PPC’s Hercules plant, in Pretoria, on September 3 for a tour and presentation on the basics of cement.
The tour was arranged by PPC as part of its social economic responsibility and women’s month activities.
Following a brick-making demonstration and tour of the PPC plant, members of Sawic were presented with information packages from PPC.
The plant tour provided detailed descriptions of the extensive laboratory tests performed on the raw materials of cement, how the various components are processed and batched as well as what goes into different grades of cement.
PPC plant GM Bheki Mthembu notes that PPC’s Hercules plant was one of the first and largest cement manufacturing plants established in South Africa. He adds that the cement produced at this plant has been used in the construction of most of South Africa’s iconic landmarks, including the Union Buildings, in Pretoria, the Gariep dam, in the Free State, the Van Stadens bridge, in the Eastern Cape, Gautrain infrastructure in Gauteng, power utility Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile power stations and several soccer stadiums throughout the country.
Mthembu also states that PPC has, in recent years, invested in sites throughout Africa, including Zimbabwe, Botswana, Rwanda and Ethiopia, as well as in the current construction of another cement factory in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Sawic Gauteng chairperson Kile Kwinana says Sawic was created in 1997 to broaden the development of women in the construction industry. “There were no women representing the construction industry at that point in time, so drastic action had to be taken.”
Sawic is represented by a chapter in every province, with current membership of the Gauteng chapter standing at more than 150 members. Members operate their own construction companies.
Kwinana states that the development of women in the construction industry is echoed through the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), which rates contractors from Grade 1 to Grade 9. A Sawic Gauteng member from a woman-owned company had her CIDB grading upgraded to Grade 9 this year. “This entrepreneur has been in the construction industry for about 15 years,” she says.
Kwinana also notes that Sawic’s intention is to empower women not only in South Africa but also beyond the borders of South Africa to build sustainable economies in the rest of Africa as well. “South Africa is a gateway into Africa with the most stable political status of all African countries,” she says.
Further, Sawic encourages the empowerment of women in the construction industry across the value chain, says Kwinana. “Sawic is currently focused on the service provision sector within the construction industry, with the majority of members represented in the building sector in the fields of brick and mortar,” she says, adding however that Sawic is encouraging its members to pursue work in the concrete sector and construction materials supply sector.
“Sixty per cent to 70% of construction costs per project is allocated to materials, and women are not players in this space. Thus, we require more representation by women in the construction materials manufacturing and supply sector,” she concludes.