Construction industry condemns property damage, looting

16th July 2021 By: Tasneem Bulbulia - Creamer Media Reporter

Construction body the Construction Alliance South Africa (Casa) has condemned the acts of violence, damage to property and looting that have been taking place in some parts of the country, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

“It is very sad for us as a construction industry to see properties going up in flames. Some of these properties are massive commercial buildings that are going to take many months to rebuild and get them to their full operational status.

“We are also concerned about the reversal of gains made in the roll out of the national vaccination programme, which will have a devastating effect on our industry and the country,” the organisation states.

Emphasizing the need for calm and bold action by government, Casa chairperson John Matthews indicates that, although there have been some delays in decisively dealing with the outbreak of vandalism, theft and looting, it welcomes government and civil society’s bold interventions in stepping up to ensure that there is no further destruction of property, looting and intimidation.

Casa says the construction sector remains committed to playing a developmental role and it is ready to rebuild what has been destroyed, as well as other infrastructure required for the growing population and for economic growth.

“We are willing to engage with both government and other role-players on how we can assist in the rebuilding process post these unfortunate times,” Casa says.

Meanwhile, federation Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) has also condemned the destruction of property and ongoing looting of businesses that has taken place this week.

“These actions represent acts of wanton criminality that directly impact the viability of construction projects and job security in the construction and manufacturing sectors,” it states.

With an understanding that the construction and manufacturing sectors remain critical enablers of South Africa’s economic recovery plans, the destruction of property brings regional infrastructure projects to a halt, MBSA says.

It notes that projects in and around KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have ground to an abrupt halt, with enormous consequences on the infrastructure development plans and economic recovery of South Africa.

“Given the nature of the protest, supply chains in and around Durban and Johannesburg have been disrupted. Even as the clean-up operations start, there will be costly delays in the supply of key components and materials.

“The closure of sites and transport routes puts pressure on project timelines. We anticipate a huge increase in declarations of force majeure,” says MBSA executive director Roy Mnisi.

MBSA says the uncertainty and volatility around the protests are likely to widen South Africa’s growing skills shortage, while actively pushing back South Africa’s infrastructure development plans by decades.

MBSA is concerned about the long-term impact the destruction of property will have on the sustainability of the sector.

“As a key driver of South Africa’s economy, and a key pivot in the country’s post-Covid-19 recovery, more than ever, the construction industry needs to maintain and grow its resilience and talent pool.

“The disruption to business activity and destruction of property further delays the recovery of the economy from successive lockdown restrictions, increasing the unemployment figures in the country.

“While we are not in a position to quantify the overall financial losses associated with each act of destruction, we condemn all acts of violence and destruction of property,” Mnisi says.