Congress 2018 grapples with issues affecting our construction industry and country

Congress 2018 grapples with issues affecting our construction industry and country

Roy Mnisi, Executive Director of Master Builders South Africa, addresses delegates at Congress 2018

A summary of the 113th Master Builders South Africa Congress held on 10 and 11 September 2018 at the Boardwalk International Convention Centre in Port Elizabeth. A comprehensive report on Congress will be published in the October issue of SA Builder.

Issues impacting the South African construction industry – and the country as a whole – came under the spotlight at this year’s Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) Congress.

Under the theme of Building South Africa Together, building industry leaders, economists, educators and other relevant stakeholders shared knowledge, information and ideas during the challenging debates and thought-provoking discussions that characterise Congress.

Kicking off the event, MBSA Executive Director Roy Mnisi, said: “We are holding this gathering at a time when our industry is facing unprecedented challenges such as declining investment from both private and public sectors, significant drops in share prices of listed construction companies as well as liquidations of established firms and SMMEs due to the tough economic position we find ourselves in. This Congress will not only highlight the state of the industry, but will also sketch out scenarios to ready us for the future.”

Master Builders South Africa Congress 2018 saw Vic Naidoo (L) installed
as Vice President and John Matthews (R) as President for the forthcoming
2018/2019 term

Delivering the Congress’ keynote address on The State of the Construction Industry and Where to from Here, MBSA President, John Matthews, said: “The past 10 years have seen little to no growth in the building industry. This is the fifth consecutive quarter that the construction industry has declined, reducing its value from R110 billion to R108 billion. Added to this is a lack of skilled labour and supervision, collusion and the tangible and non-tangible costs thereof, along with mistrust between contractors and clients with R6.6 billion owed by clients. Construction companies are either in liquidation or business rescue and many others are in distress. Although government has allocated R50 billion to infrastructure, this means nothing because available funds are not being spent and we will continue to see things play out in the way they did with Liviero and Basil Read, either because of a lack of will to execute or failure to pay contractors when invoices are due.”

On the issue of skills development, Paul Dhlamini, Levies and Grants Manager at Services Services Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA), revealed that artisan development has become a national priority. “The country has a shortage of artisans to such an extent that the Minister of Higher Education has signed an agreement with the President to produce 30 000 skilled artisans by the end of 2030. It was deemed necessary to make artisan development non-sector based so that all of the SETAs can contribute money to ensure that we train artisans and reduce employment.”

A key feature of every Congress are the Technical Workshops which enable teams of experts from various facets of the industry to debate the issues surrounding Construction Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S), Education, Training & Transformation in the Construction Industry and Regulatory, Contractual and Legal Matters in the Construction Industry. This year, the bulk of the second day was devoted to these.

Some of the resolutions that emerged from these sessions included the hosting of OH&S workshops, forums and training interventions to help reduce fatalities within the industry; curriculum development to meet future needs, particularly those of the fourth industrial revolution; and sending a joint delegation comprised of the implementing agent and local Master Builders Association to the government department that is late on payment to the member.

Matthews brought this year’s event to a close by saying: “It is my hope that we can report on the progress we have made on these and other resolutions at next year’s MBSA Congress which will be taking place in Gauteng.”

MBSA National Safety Competition winners announced

MBSA National Safety Competition winners announced

All the winners of the 2018 Master Builders South Africa National Safety Competition All photos: Michael Sheehan Photography

At the Federated Employers’ Mutual (FEM) Gala Dinner held at Congress 2018 anticipation was high as announcement of the winners of the Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) National Safety Competition 2018 began.

The awards were co-presented by the Managing Director of FEM – Ndivhuwo Manyonga and MBSA President – John Matthews.

Addressing all present Manyonga emphasised that FEM remains continuously focused on Construction Health and Safety and, together with its employer member and their employees, strives towards Zero Harm – where every employee can go home safely to their loved ones every day.

Greg Steel, Director of East Cape Master Builders Association and Chairperson of the MBSA Safety Awards Competition, congratulated all participants in the competition for their outstanding achievements.

He also gave special thanks to the judges and audit team who audited 36 sites around the country across 10 categories, and spent many nights away from home.

The full list and detail of the winners will be published in the October edition of SA Builder.

Winner in the primary category – Category I: Aveng Grinaker – LTA Enza Construction Joint Venture for the Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital KwaZulu-Natal




The Federated Employers’ Mutual Shield, Category H, was won by the WBHO Sibonele Oceans Joint Venture for the Oceans Umhlali project




Winner of the Allied Trade Category B1, was won by Form-Scaff for the East London-Beacon Bay Premises





My natural optimism may not have been immediately evident as we started our blockbuster 113th Master Builders South Africa (MBSA) Congress in Port Elizabeth, but it’s my belief that there is a distinct difference between gloomy pessimism, and a good hard airing of the facts, however unpalatable, with the object of finding solutions.

John Matthews, President, Master Builders South Africa

It was in the latter mode that we found ourselves as we gathered at the Boardwalk Convention Centre to examine an industry that faces some of its hardest times ever, and ways to do something about it.

Several of the problems have their roots in history, like the lack of skilled labour and supervision, and others have resulted from additional costs to the industry for compliance, health and safety measures in the face of shrinking margins. And more immediately, there is the regular news of businesses in trouble as a result of non-payment.

We cannot ignore the R6.6 billion currently owed by clients, both private and public”

The announcement by President Ramaphosa of an allocation of funds for government projects is, on the one hand, encouraging, but means nothing if there is a lack of will to execute. And for government to be among the biggest debtors to the industry makes his pronouncement somewhat of a hollow promise.

What did emerge from all of this, is that the building industry is not surprisingly, too dependent on government for its work. Which is probably a by-product of there being a distinct lack of business confidence among players in the private sector right now. As a result of political chicanery.

This is a fact of life for the time being, and, without any big changes (fast), to a time when infrastructure spending eventually resumes in earnest, the builders who survive will be leaner, and skills will have to be sourced elsewhere than from our own workforce.

The really big changes that will bring about renewed health in the building industry may not be short-term, but they are nevertheless essential – the primary one being to start generating a passion for construction as a career of first choice. And then training and developing those who choose the industry, from a very young age – as early as primary school level.

And when it comes to training and its application we have to realise that the existing training opportunities have to be properly organized and integrated to reflect a truly cohesive approach.

I also advocate a healthy streak of cynicism that includes our view of the escalating role of the Chinese in our economy. They will not be here to develop local skills and may instead, insist on importing skilled labour at lower cost, thus creating more debt.

And if we as an industry, as a country, have any hope of moving forward, we have to pay more than lip-service to the eradication of fraud and corruption. We’re in this state we’re in because of it.

Ever-optimistic, I look forward to a day, during my tenure as President of the MBSA, if I were to be so fortunate, when I am able to write this Comment to report a month at the very least, when South Africans could look back on real economic progress and forward to a brighter future. But as we look back on our 113th MBSA Congress, the South African Building Industry remains in undeniably turbulent times where uncertainty is about the only conclusion we can reach right now.

However, we don’t – as hardy South African survivors of the slings and arrows of scandal and skulduggery – let a little thing like adversity get us down. We look for where the upside might, possibly, emerge on the wide horizons of the country we all love so fiercely.

Perhaps it’s in the visit of the British Prime Minister, Mrs May who is prepared to dance, albeit badly, to our tune – offering the hand of renewed friendship and possibly financial gain. Or, we could take heart in the eventual explanation by our President of what the government really means by expropriation without compensation.

We could also hope that China’s proposed escalation of direct investment in South Africa might do more good than harm. We are already the second largest recipient of Chinese FDI in sub-Saharan Africa and the relationship has the virtue of longevity with our biggest trading partner.

With a reasonable assurance that increased investment will nowadays make its way into the SA economy and boost our collective business, we could feel a glimmer of hope.

Notwithstanding the odd possibility of another hidden agenda.


There’s no beating an original

There’s no beating an original

Secunda Mall
Photo: Gareth Griffiths

By Gareth Griffiths

Over decades, ZINCALUME® has become a household name within the building industry. When specifying premium high performance metallic coated roofing and cladding materials, this original and trusted brand remains the roofing material of choice for specifiers, says the manufacturer.

First made in the late 1970’s, ZINCALUME has a long and distinguished pedigree, having been constantly improved over time. Manufactured and marketed by BlueScope, a reported 28 million tonnes of these zinc-aluminium coated products worldwide have been sold since inception – as verified by the Zinc-Aluminum Coaters Association (ZAC).

The 55% Al-Zn technology is licensed internationally by BIEC International Inc., a BlueScope subsidiary. In certain countries, the technology is marketed as GALVALUME®. In the mid 2000’s, the acrylic surface resin applied to coils of the product at the factory was upgraded, yielding significant advances in performance and formability.

A registered trademark of BlueScope Ltd, ZINCALUME steel was developed in association with Bethlehem Steel in the USA and perfected by Australian scientists at the Port Kembla research laboratories in New South Wales.

The choice of roofing material can affect the amount of solar energy that enters a building, affecting climate control inside the building and the comfort of occupants. To mitigate against heat ingress, ZINCALUME steel has an attractive, shiny appearance designed to keep heat out by limiting solar absorptance. All roofing products are subject to weathering, however, BlueScope’s product will stay brighter for much longer than alternatives, providing approximately twice the thermal performance of other commonly used materials such as weathered galvanised steel and fibre cement/asbestos.

ZINCALUME steel continues to deliver strong thermal performance throughout the life of the product. ZINCALUME is also extremely easy to form and work with”, says Hanekom. “It stays brighter for longer and due to its lightweight steel character. It is the architect’s dream material for curves and shapes, having been formed into a variety of curved surfaces. A good example of this is the roof over the departures terminal at Cape Town International Airport, completed in time for the 2010 FIFA soccer world cup and impressively shaped like an aircraft wing. Viewed from the air, this gives a stunning example of how versatile this product is.

The ZINCALUME roof at Cape Town International Airport is a stunning example of how versatile this product is.
Photo: Gareth Griffiths

The corrosion-resisting benefits of the product are considerable, and a special AZ 200 (both sides coated with 200 g/m2 of Al-Zn coating) version is available for use within the 5 km distance of the sea or in areas where there is a strong industrial fallout.

Because the metallic coating consists of 55% aluminium with the 43.5% zinc (the balance being Silicon), on a minimum coating mass both sides of 150 g/m2 in total, the user gets a highly effective degree of sacrificial anodic protection over the steel substrate meaning that the product may last at least four times longer than conventional zinc coated steels. ZINCALUME steel exhibits a more complex coating structure with both aluminium- and zinc-rich areas. The zinc-rich area provides excellent sacrificial protection, while the aluminium-rich area provides durable barrier protection. It is the combination of these two characteristics that make this unique product durable and effective against corrosion.

All this means that a special corporate warranty of performance can apply when product is fitted in an approved way”, adds Hanekom.

Mbombela Stadium
Photo: Grant Duncan-Smith

Noteworthy projects

ZINCALUME has been used extensively throughout South Africa on a number of high profile projects.

BlueScope customer, Clotan Steel expertly formed ZINCALUME into its Craft Lock profile in use at the Secunda Mall, as specified by architectural firm, LP Architects. The double-story mall was completed late in 2013.

Other examples of projects have included the Mbombela Stadium, Maponya Mall, Soweto, various integrated housing projects and more recently the roof over the massive Pepkor Distribution Centre in Hammarsdale.

Pepkor Distribution Centre, Hammarsdale Photo: Reinhard Swanepoel

If the good name of your practice is on the line, make sure our brand name is on the steel. Look for the brand that identifies the long lasting guaranteed performance of genuine ZINCALUME by BlueScope. It’s stamped on the underside of the roof sheet. Why risk your reputation by using generic Al/Zn coated steel when you can enjoy peace of mind by using genuine ZINCALUME steel?” he asks.

BlueScope Steel Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd

T: +27 21 442 5420



Concrete versatility and sustainability important for infrastructural development

Concrete versatility and sustainability important for infrastructural development

Bryan Perrie, managing director of The Concrete Institute

The versatility of concrete boosts the building material’s sustainable merits and should be a decisive factor when maximum quality and longevity are aimed for in infrastructural projects, says Bryan Perrie, managing director of The Concrete Institute (TCI).

Perrie says the user or designer can basically decide what type of concrete he or she needs. “Concrete can be designed and proportioned to meet an extremely wide range of specific requirements including consistencies, flows, setting times, and hardened properties. The product is flexible enough to produce varying strengths at early or late stages, different types of strengths in general, pre-determined densities, as well as the required levels of abrasion resistance and shrinkage.”

When building with concrete, some of the many flexibility benefits include:

  • Concrete can be produced on the building site using a wide variety of transport and placing mechanisms;
  • It can be transported from batch plants to the construction site via a myriad of means ranging from simple wheelbarrows, to heavy engineering vehicles and equipment such as dumpers, trucks, conveyors, cranes and pumps;
  • Concrete can be placed by cranes, pumps, trunks, spraying equipment, and tremies (large metal hoppers and pipes used to place freshly mixed concrete underwater); and
  • Self-compacting concrete (SCC) offers additional flexibility in the placing of concrete and the achievement of excellent off-shutter finishes.

    Versatile concrete in its pre-cast form is used for storm water drainage, water and sewage reticulation pipes

Concrete has the advantage over other materials in that concrete elements such as walls, columns, beams, trusses, and slabs can be constructed in situ as part of the structure being erected, or pre-cast on site on the ground and lifted into their final position via the tilt up and stack casting methods. As a hybrid of pre-cast and in situ concrete, concrete can also be pre-cast kilometres away in a pre-cast yard and transported to site and placed into position there.

An additional benefit is that all of the above options can be combined on one project. This may mean that some elements are constructed in situ, while others may be pre-cast on site and still other pre-cast off-site,” Perrie adds.

Dealing with the versatility of pre-cast concrete, he says this economical construction product is derived by casting concrete into a reusable mould or form which is then cured in a controlled environment, transported to the construction site to be lifted into place as opposed to standard concrete which is poured into site-specific forms and cured on site.

By producing pre-cast concrete in a controlled environment – the so-called ‘pre-cast yard’ – it is possible to monitor and control all stages of production, including ensuring that adequate curing is carried out to ensure that the final products fully comply with strength requirements.”

Pre-cast yards may be established, operational factories or can be created on site. The pre-cast concrete is generally cast at ground level which helps with safety and productivity throughout a project. “As stated, there is greater control of the quality of materials and workmanship in a pre-cast yard than when concrete is cast in situ. Pre-cast yard production tends to lead to increased better durability and when the products and structure last longer, the end-result is cost saving in maintenance, materials and energy – not to mention eliminating inconvenience. The forms used in a pre-cast plant may be reused hundreds to thousands of times before they have to be replaced which ensures that the cost of formwork per unit is lower than for in situ construction.”

Concrete can be pre-cast on site on the ground and lifted into their final position via the tilt up and stack casting methods

Furthermore, if the structure has been appropriately designed, pre-cast products can be removed and reused after the structure has reached the end of its life and is to be replaced.

Perrie says there are many forms of pre-cast concrete products, including:

  • Pre-cast architectural panels used to clad all or part of a building;
  • Storm water drainage, water and sewage reticulation pipes, culverts, manholes, sumps and tunnels;
  • Pre-cast building components used architecturally as cladding, trimmings, accessories and curtain walls;
  • Pre-cast concrete’s structural applications include bricks, blocks, foundations, beams, floors, walls and other similar components; and
  • Pre-cast concrete products are also used in the building, safety and site protection of various transportation systems in the form of culverts, bridge beams and segments, railway sleepers, sound walls or barriers, safety barriers and kerbs.

The increased control of pre-cast concrete in the production phase ensures fewer reject products and consequent saving of raw materials, as well as speeding up construction on site. Well-situated, highly sophisticated pre-cast yards produce pre-cast products to very high tolerances resulting in significant time-savings on site. Examples of this were the pre-cast plants that manufactured the thousands of pre-cast concrete tunnel and bridge segments of the Gautrain infrastructure.”

Perrie adds: “The social contribution of concrete to civilisation cannot be overestimated. It is the second most used resource in the world after water and contributes significantly to human standard of living including the houses we live in, the schools and universities we attend, the offices we work in, the infrastructure of water reticulation and sewers, the dams that hold our water, and the roads that fulfil the needs of mankind globally.”

Crystal Lagoons® brings beach life to Pretoria

Crystal Lagoons® brings beach life to Pretoria

Crystal Lagoons has created the ultimate lifestyle at this Balwin development, complete with a beach setting featuring white sands and crystal clear blue water

The first clear water lagoon powered by Crystal Lagoons® in sub-Saharan Africa was the centre feature of Balwin Properties’ new development in Pretoria, The Blyde, which officially opened on 08 September 2018.

Crystal Lagoons, in partnership with Balwin Properties Limited, has created the ultimate lifestyle development complete with a beach setting featuring white sands and crystal clear blue water. The Blyde gives its residents the ultimate lifestyle option of living near or next to the world’s top amenity – an idyllic clear water lagoon. It will also features a state of the art lifestyle centre which includes a restaurant, gym, spa, concierge, laundromat, multi-purpose sports fields as well as two swimming pools within the lagoon.

Balwin Properties Limited CEO, Steve Brookes, says: “Having The Blyde developed around a lagoon offers so much more to people who are looking for somewhere safe and a place where their children can be children – it has massive appeal to a wide range of people because there is nowhere else in Pretoria that is close to a large body of water which they can enjoy.”

The Blyde incorporates the first Crystal Lagoon to be developed in sub-Saharan Africa and is expected to raise the bar on new residential developments

This crystalline lagoon, powered by Crystal Lagoons, at The Blyde, is the first to be developed in sub-Saharan Africa and is expected to raise the bar on new residential developments as a lagoon offers so much more value and appeal for residents and property investors.

Water Usage at The Blyde
Regional Director at multinational water innovation company Crystal Lagoons, Alastair Sinclair says, “A big positive for projects in South Africa is that the water usage of a crystalline lagoon powered by Crystal Lagoons technology has far less impact than that of a park or golf course. Crystal Lagoons’ technology addresses the concerns around the use of water and the energy needed to maintain conventional swimming pools. Also, any type of water can be used – ground water, salt water and even brackish water are all suitable to fill a beach-like Lagoon.”

The Crystal Lagoons water treatment technology offers several environmental advantages over traditional water treatment and filtration technologies, as it uses and is designed to utilise scarce resources, such as water and energy in a very rational manner, providing a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution. Evaporation of water from these pristine crystalline amenities is minimised through the use of a microfilm technology that can reduce evaporation by up to 50%, which means that the lagoon does not have to be topped up with water regularly – as it would, for example, for swimming pools. In fact in some areas, rain water alone fulfils these requirements.

A typical Lagoon uses 30 times less water than a standard golf course. The filtration system consumes only 2% of the energy required by conventional filtration systems.

Sinclair concludes: “We are delighted with the inauguration of this crystalline lagoon at The Blyde in Pretoria, as it will not only provide tremendous value to our partners, Balwin Properties, and the residents of this development, but it also means that our company’s technology is now present on all five continents.”

With 15 international offices and over 600 projects in 60 countries around the world, Crystal Lagoons has developed a pioneering, innovative, and environmentally sustainable technology that has been patented worldwide. Crystal Lagoons has created the world’s top amenity in the form of tropical turquoise man-made lagoons of unlimited size, which can be built and maintained at very low costs anywhere in the world, using a minimal amount of chemicals and energy.

Crystal Lagoons man-made lagoons have no size limitation and can be built and maintained at very low cost anywhere in the world, using a minimal amount of chemicals and energy