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.”

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