Capacity development, training continues with virtual meetings

3rd July 2020 By: Schalk Burger - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

Professional development nonprofit organisation The South Africa Road Federation (SARF) is delivering ten accredited courses using Microsoft Teams during July and August, with planning for courses later in the year also under way, SARF operations director Basil Jonsson says.

South Africa’s road network needs to be properly managed, preserved, upgraded, expanded and funded and ongoing capacity development and training of engineers, technologists and technicians who work in the road sector is essential.

"Ongoing training is vital to ensure our roads support the economy. To halt our training programme would have had serious consequences because practices are being developed and new technologies introduced all the time. South Africa cannot afford to lag behind what is happening internationally," he says.

"At the beginning of the year, we had over 50 training courses planned and venues booked across South Africa and Namibia; however, things changed very quickly and it became apparent that Covid-19 was here to stay for some time."

SARF’s training programmes are accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa and are presented by industry experts "who are passionate about sharing the latest developments in their specialised fields". SARF trains more than 1 500 people a year.

"Our training programme covers different aspects of road design and construction. These include traffic engineering, road pavement design, construction and maintenance, environmental management, design and application of hot mix asphalt, urban storm water drainage, road safety audits and bridge and culvert inspection," says Jonsson.

The ten courses that will be delivered virtually during July and August include 'Asphalt: An overview of best practice' on July 8 and 9. This course provides practitioners with a practical overview of sound and correct practices for the production and construction of hot mix asphalt for roads and airfield pavements.

Further, on July 16, the 'Assessments and analysis of test data' course will take place. The purpose of the course is to introduce participants to statistical procedures and practices which can be used to advance rational decisions in the assessment of the quality of products in the roads industry. These products can include stockpiled aggregates, bituminous binders in bulk tanks, concrete construction or completed pavement layers.

The July 21 and 22 course 'New advanced Traffic Safety Officer/Roadworks traffic management training in compliance with legislation' aims to capacitate Traffic Safety Officers and designers so they can competently operate and design in compliance with legislation and also demonstrate competency in the different duties that are required to carry out at a road works project.

Subsequently, on July 23, the 'Concrete road design and construction' course will focus on the technology applied in the design and construction of concrete pavements. It covers the supporting layers, thickness design using a computer programme, pave and joint design, detailing and layout. Concrete materials and mix design, construction, modes of distress and failure and rehabilitation are also included.

SARF's 'Community engagement' course, on July 28, covers all the practical aspects of community engagement during the planning, implementation and evaluation of construction projects.

On July 30, 'The use of reclaimed asphalt in the production of asphalt' course, which is aimed at engineering professionals well-acquainted with the design of asphalt mixes, is based on the content of TRH21:2017 and focuses on special considerations for asphalt containing more than nominal proportions of reclaimed asphalt.

From August 4 to 6 the 'Managing labour-intensive construction projects' foundational course will be delievered, designed to enable public officials, consultants and contractors to have a better understanding of the Labour Intensive Construction philosophy, concepts, principles and techniques.

Further, the August 5 and 6 'Introduction to road materials engineering' course provides a practical introduction to road building materials and road construction techniques. It introduces the terms, jargon and buzz-words regularly used in road building and aims to enable candidates to become familiar with the materials used in road construction.

The final two courses scheduled for August include the 'Traffic impact studies': a step-by-step course on the preparation of traffic impact studies (TISs) which covers the steps involved in the preparation and review of TIS reports. It includes specific training on how to be proficient in the various technical requirements for the preparation of a TIS and will take place from August 11 to 13.

The 'Nonmotorised transport (NMT) practice' course, scheduled for August 18 to 20, focuses on the various practices and skills that practitioners need. It also provides solutions to challenges they experience in implementing NMT modes within transport systems in both urban and rural areas, Jonsson concludes.