MBA North welcomes government’s infrastructure strategy but says implementation is critical

The Master Builders Association (MBA) North has broadly welcomed President Ramaphosa’s vision of massive infrastructure spending as the “flywheel” of South Africa’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. Speaking at the inaugural Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium, President Ramaphosa said that 88 investment-ready projects had already been identified by the Presidency’s infrastructure and investment head Dr Kgosientsho Ramakgopa and Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia de Lille.

However, says MBA North President, Mohau Mphomela, the industry has heard similar rhetoric for the past several years.

“We are in agreement with Minister De Lille that this cannot be another talking shop – it’s all about implementation, implementation, implementation,” he notes. “It’s noteworthy that the President has identified the key role that the private sector has to play in making this project work, but it remains to be seen whether he can deliver on the clear policies and institutional frameworks that will be needed to unlock corporate treasure chests.

“If the state insists on playing a central role, we could see this initiative failing to meet its targets. Everything thus hinges on the ability of the Presidency’s infrastructure commission to convince investors that they are up to the task. Given the state’s poor track record when it comes to managing large projects – Medupi and Kusile come to mind – it is of the utmost importance that they can demonstrate both commitment and capability to investors.”

President Ramaphosa has previously indicated that he wants to attract R1.5 trillion over the next 10 years for the infrastructure development programme.

Mphomela notes that the construction industry has been under severe strain for several years now, with several of its leading players either having gone out of business or in business rescue. The COVID-19 lockdowns have further intensified the industry’s vulnerability. The same scenario is playing out in the cement, engineering and steel industries locally.

“We have lost a lot of muscle, and what was once a world-class construction sector is now a shadow of its former self,” he says. “More delays will further reduce our internal capability to deliver on these ambitious projects, and thus hamstring efforts to rebuild a more inclusive economy.

“The Master Builders Association North stands ready to work with government to turn these plans into reality, but time is running out,” he concludes.

Q&A With Bheki Mdlalose, Group Managing Director, Grinaker-LTA

What was the background for the acquisition of Grinaker-LTA from Aveng by Laula Consortium?

  • Aveng made a strategic decision to exit the South African construction market and focus on mining contracting (Moolmans) and its Australian operations (McConnell Dowell).
  • Construction in South Africa employs mostly black African people and thus it made business sense to hand over the business to black entrepreneurs.
  • Laula is a consortium made up of three businesspeople, representing investment businesses they are controlling, namely: OTEO Holdings (Mlu Manci – Chairperson), Bruce Zungu (Non-Executive Director), Raymond Cele (Executive Director) and Bhekani Mdlalose (Group Managing Director). The major drive was to be a part of the team that will make a difference in South Africa and contribute to the infrastructure in the country. Contractors build monuments that create legacies and last for a long time.

How is Grinaker-LTA dealing with the coronavirus lockdown?

  • This has been the most challenging time for the business and South Africa as a whole. Our message is consistent with that of Government: people should adhere to the lockdown rules and remain at home except for when they require essentials services. If the virus is spread the virus through movement and contact, minimising movement will curb the spread.
  • G-LTA’s leadership has encouraged employees who do not feel well or were in contact with people who have / had been travelling to get tested.
  • Good governance is never more necessary than during a crisis and at a time of significant change. The tough decisions G-LTA leadership has had to take during the crisis and will continue to take in months ahead to ensure that our employees are taken care of and the business is sustainable remains the paramount goal.
  • We have extended our hands to the needy communities that we operate within in the form of food parcels, providing water and essential PPE (this is what we call Ubuntu).

What are Grinaker-LTA’s future plans?

  • Grinaker-LTA has a lot to offer to South Africa’s troubled construction and infrastructure sector. Having pioneered the construction of monuments, the company possesses the skills and tenacity to accelerate the infrastructure stimulus as set out by the President.
  • Our ability to connect and develop meaningful bonds with communities in which we operate will ensure we play a key role in rolling out of infrastructure stimulus.
  • We are familiar with rural and underdeveloped communities – this will make is easy for us to deliver projects in environments we understand.
  • Our commitment to the economic growth of South Africa will position us to deliver the much-needed infrastructure built in South Africa.
  • We are a smaller business now, so we pay more attention to our clients’ needs for better returns. We are also able to make decisions quicker, which will minimise unnecessary delays and costly overruns in the projects we are involved with.
  • We are looking to get involved through the lifecycle and value-chain of the project development.

 

 

 

Gauteng Piling Back In Action After Lockdown

The devastating pandemic lockdown in the construction sector now means that decision-makers will entrust building projects only to companies of repute, says Gauteng Piling founder and MD, Nico Maas.

“The industry has learnt to trust Gauteng Piling so demand for our services has already started to increase and the company is now busy on several sites with sufficient work in the pipeline,” says Maas, who established Gauteng Piling in 1996.

He says Gauteng Piling has managed to survive the lockdown, which destroyed many construction industry players, because it has through experience learnt that a “mean and lean” structure is essential for survival in the volatile building industry. “Tight control on spending through rig and plant refurbishment rather than spending on expensive new equipment has kept Gauteng Piling afloat through many a slump. Most of Gauteng Piling’s piling rigs are tyre-mounted allowing for quick site establishment.

“The refurbishment policy has proved most successful with our 15 auger rigs performing extremely well. Rebuilding is far less expensive than purchasing new units and this has enabled Gauteng Piling to remain competitive. Piling is a highly-competitive industry, calling for experience and the ability to adapt to change,” Maas adds.

The company – a Level 2 B-BBEE contributor – has some impressive high-profile projects to testify to its expertise including, for example, the provision of the foundation for Africa’s largest single-phase retail centre, Mall of Africa in Midrand; the expansion of the Fourways Mall; as well as additional and challenging extensions to the Market Theatre complex in Johannesburg.

Among the many current or recent contracts secured are specialised piling projects calling for pipe piling for a new lift at Clearwater Mall in Roodepoort, and the SAPS premises in Welkom; and friction (floating) piles for a new residential complex at Greenstone. Standard auger piling contracts include:

  • The new luxury Tree Tops apartment block being developed by Tricolt in Houghton;
  • A new entrance and expansion of Cresta Shopping Centre in Randburg;
  • New facility for diving rescue training for the University of Johannesburg’s Medical Rescue students in Auckland Park;
  • Tshwane University of Technology satellite campus in Emalahleni; and
  • Storage tanks of Coca-Cola Beverages Africa in Nigel.

Gauteng Piling was also appointed to handle piling for housing projects in Marabastad, HB Realty residential developments in Corlett Drive, and expansion of Africa Floorcare warehouse in Alberton.

For more information, contact Nico Maas on email nicomaas@mweb.co.za or cell 082 651 8182.

 

Notice Regarding Implementation Of Ergonomics Risk Assessment And Medical Surveillance In Terms Of Regulations 6 and 8 Of The Ergonomics Regulations Of 2019, Respectively

Department of Employment and Labour

Under section 40 (3) (b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No 85 of 1993, as amended), I, Tibor Szana, appointed as chief inspector in terms of section 27 (1) of the said Act, and by virtue of the powers delegated to me by the Minister of Employment and Labour, in terms of section 42 (1) of the said Act, hereby grant the following temporary exemption from Regulations 6 and 8 of the Ergonomics Regulation of 2019 in terms of section 40 of the said Act:

For an employer to perform an ergonomics risk assessment and place an employee under medical surveillance, until the 30th June 2021.

Signed

Tibor Szana (Mr)

Chief Inspector: Occupational Health and Safety

Health & Safety Risks To Consider During Lockdown Level 3, By Gerhard Roets, Construction Health & Safety Manager, MBA North

Hierarchy of Controls

  • Elimination: Physically remove the hazard
  • Substitution: Replace the hazard
  • Engineering Controls: Isolate people from the hazard
  • Administrative Controls: Change the way people work
  • Personal Protective Equipment: Protect the worker with PPE

HAZARD: Transport to work

RISK

Company transport: Lack of social distancing, transport with ill people, unsanitary vehicle and poor ventilation in vehicles.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

The transportation of workers by public transport with limitations on vehicle capacity and stringent hygiene requirements should be followed.

  • Where practical, contractors will make use of transport where the safe distance of 1,5m can be maintained
  • Employees must be transported in well-ventilated vehicles where possible
  • All vehicles must be sanitised prior to use
  • All employees entering the vehicle must be wearing cloth face masks

HAZARD: Covid-19 non-awareness

RISK

General non-awareness of the virus can lead to the spreading of the virus.

IMPACT

Fatality

CONTROL

  • Covid-19 information, education and communication
  • Posters with information on notice boards, changing facilities and meeting areas
  • Hand-outs provided on topics
  • Toolbox talks on topics
  • Training (internal and external); online

HAZARD: Reporting of duty: Access control

RISK

Biometric system can potentially result in the transmission of the virus.

IMPACT

Business risk / Fatality

CONTROL

  • Stop all non-essential visitors
  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times.
  • All persons entering the site will be wearing a face mask
  • Monitor site access points to enable social distancing – you may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring
  • Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact, eg fingerprint scanners or biometric system.

HAZARD: Possible infected person at work

RISK

An infected person in the workplace can potentially spread the virus.

IMPACT

Business risk / Fatality

CONTROL

  • Designated manager or OMP (Occupational Medical Practitioner) to be informed should an infection be suspected
  • Person to be provided with a mask if not already wearing one
  • Person to be removed to quarantine area while awaiting transport
  • Person to be transported to a testing or treatment facility
  • Use of masks and gloves when consulting with the potentially infected person
  • The quarantine area to be sanitised after the person was removed using the correct PPE

HAZARD: General hygiene in the workplace

RISK

People are within 1,5m from each other in the workplace.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

  • Social distancing policy implemented that no person should be closer than 1,5m from each other
  • No bodily contact whatsoever allowed in the company
  • Employees should limit the use of co-worker’s tools and equipment.
  • Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out.
  • Work requiring skin to skin contact should not be carried out

HAZARD: Site meetings and toolbox talks

RISK

Failing to comply with the social distancing policy.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

  • Social distancing policy implemented that no persons should be closer than 1,5m from each other
  • No bodily contact whatsoever allowed in the company
  • Supervisor or manager leading meeting to ensure compliance
  • Site meeting protocols

HAZARD: Changing facilities and showers

RISK

Contaminated objects and surfaces can transmit the virus.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

  • Introduce staggered start and finish times in order to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities throughout the day and at the end of each day
  • Consider increasing the number or size of facilities available on site if possible
  • Based on the size of each facility, determine how many people can use it at any one time to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins in these areas with regular removal and disposal

HAZARD: Canteens and eating arrangements

RISK

Contaminated objects and surfaces can transmit the virus.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

  • The workforce should also be required to stay on-site once they have entered it and not use local shops
  • Dedicated eating areas should be identified on site to reduce food waste and contamination
  • Break times should be staggered in order to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving the area.
  • The workforce should be asked to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home

HAZARD: Tool storage areas

RISK

Infected tools and equipment.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

  • A sufficient stock of hand sanitiser, soap and paper towels must be kept and made available in the storage area
  • Storeman to maintain a 1,5 m distance from all staff collecting tools; a Perspex panel can be installed to reduce contact
  • The store man must sanitise his hands after each “transaction”
  • A sanitising station must be at the entrance to the store, employees collecting tools and goods must sanitise prior to entry
  • All commonly used tools must be sanitised on being returned to the store

HAZARD: Machine and vehicle keys

RISK

Contaminated machine or vehicle keys that are handed over between employees can result in the transmission of the virus.

IMPACT

Business risk / fatality

CONTROL

  • Seventy percent alcohol base sanitiser are available during the issuing and receiving of machine and vehicle keys
  • Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials
  • Continuous sanitising of hands
  • Equipment to be sanitised during refuelling
  • All machines have sanitiser in the cabs to sanitise on an ongoing process

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Reflection

So it was back to work for most of our Industry from 1 June 2020, but as you are no doubt aware, the MBA has been anything but idle during lockdown. Apart from our usual weekly MBA Bulletins and articles, we have sent out over 40 Covid-19 specific emails which have also been communicated to members and the industry via our website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

As mentioned in many of these communications, the MBA was able to positively influence the content and timing of the moves to Level 4 and Level 3 of the lockdown through its participation in the Covid-19 Rapid Responses Task Team (CC19RRTT), a “vehicle” formed by Master Builders South Africa to collectively interact directly with Government and related bodies on Covid-19 issues. We acknowledge and thank Master Builders South Africa, as well as Master Builders KZN, for the key roles they have played in facilitating this process thus far.

We have also been in communication with our Provincial Governments, as well as around a dozen local municipalities in our region in order promote Master Builders and to influence and assist decisions at a grassroots level. We were thus pleased to have our whole industry move to Level 3 from 1 June 2020 which we are sure occurred as a direct result of the unrelenting and sustained communication and submissions to Government by MBA representative from across the country via the task team.

Our MBA staff remain fully operational according to our own Covid-19 Return to Work Plan. Whilst most of our staff have been working from home, some have already been operating from our PE Office for a few weeks now and the balance will be returning to the office when allowed and in line with Covid-19 Alert Levels over the coming weeks.

Our offices are still closed to the public, except for meetings by appointment; however, we continue to serve our members and keep them up to date on developments. As also mentioned by the President, it is vital that we all comply with the strictest Health & Safety Guidelines and ensure that we keep our sites safe and open. In order to do this, we need to be especially diligent in our planning and preparation before and as we return to work.

What do I need to do?

With all active sites having started up again just a few weeks ago, we continue to provide the best support and assistance to our members as work resumes. To this end we have made numerous documents available on our MBA Website to assist and advise members on what is required to ensure the safety of their employees.

We have fully recognised the extreme hardship being faced by many of our members who have been unable to operate at all during this extended lockdown. As a non-profit organisation, we have also taken a bit of a beating as we are also highly dependent on cashflow and have not been able to provide manty of our services during lockdown.

There has been such a focus on Covid-19 of late and for good reason, but we must now urgently get back to some of the more pressing issues facing our industry, including things like:

 

  • Non-payment (especially subcontractors)
  • Onerous contract conditions
  • Waiver of Lien requests
  • Payment guarantees
  • Skills development
  • Promoting MBA members to clients

We would like to thank all members who have already been able to promptly settle their annual MBA membership subscriptions but also recognise that this may not be possible for all members. We have therefor made provision for a number of possible relief options to assist members who find themselves in difficulty and cannot pay their subscriptions. We encourage member companies to contact the association and we will gladly assist you as best we can.

Greg Steele

Executive Director

Master Builders, East Cape

 

NOTICE REGARDING IMPLEMENTATION OF ERGONOMICS RISK ASSESSMENT AND MEDICAL SURVEILLANCE

DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND LABOUR

NOTICE REGARDING IMPLEMENTATION OF ERGONOMICS RISK ASSESSMENT AND MEDICAL SURVEILLANCE IN TERMS OF REGULATIONS 6 AND 8 OF THE ERGONOMICS REGULATIONS OF 2019, RESPECTIVELY

Under section 40(3)(b) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 (Act No. 85 of 1993, as amended), I, Tibor Szana, appointed as chief inspector in terms of section 27(1) of the said Act, and by virtue of the powers delegated to me by the Minister of Employment and Labour, in terms of section 42(1) of the said Act, hereby grant the following temporary exemption from Regulations 6 and 8 of the Ergonomics Regulation of 2019 in terms of section 40 of the said Act:

For an employer to perform an ergonomics risk assessment and place an employee under medical surveillance, until the 30th June 2021.

Signed

Tibor Szana (Mr)

Chief Inspector: Occupational Health and Safety

The Ridge building at V&A Waterfront, façade installation update

With construction restrictions lifted, the V&A Waterfront’s development team has returned to The Ridge site to install the long-awaited façade. The first cross laminated timber (CLT) and glazing panels arrived and have been installed along Marine Road.

These custom-made panels with openable windows, are one of the key sustainability features of The Ridge building. It will assist in the natural ventilation of the office floors. CLT is a green and sustainable material since it is made out of renewable wood, sequesters carbon, and does not require the burning of fossil fuels during production.

The next milestone at The Ridge is making the building a living breathing one. It will consist of a mixed mode climate control to cover TABS, displacement ventilation and natural ventilation. Thereafter a world class interior to cover plantscaping, flexible working areas, and staff wellness focus to name a few.

SACPCMP Expresses Concern Over Collapse in Durban

The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) is concerned over an incident in KwaZulu-Natal on Tuesday, 9 June 2020, where the collapsed section of a building resulted in one death and at least five people being injured. While details regarding the incident are still under investigation by the relevant authorities, reports noted that the death and injuries were as a result of a collapsed overhanging veranda on a building situated at the corner of Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street and Goonam Street in Durban. In response to the incident, the SACPCMP highlighted the need for continual attention to the highest standards of construction and safety. “Any discrepancies in the standards of construction health and safety can place the public at risk. And while these discrepancies may not always be immediately visible, construction and safety practices that leave a margin for error can come back to haunt us in the worst way,” said SACPCMP Registrar, Mr. Butcher Matutle. “In this instance, not only were a number of people injured, but a person has lost their life.” “The SACPCMP understands that further investigation of this is still required, however, the appropriate measures must be put in place to prevent such accidents. It is important that clients and registered professionals appointed on construction projects be held accountable for substandard issues in the Project, Construction Management and Construction Health and Safety industries.” Matutle urged all registered professionals to exercise their duties diligently in ensuring the utmost of safety standards within their working environments, adding that anything less could have dire results. “The loss of life and injuries sustained while on duty can be fully avoided when we take the time and cognisance to adhere to the professional laws and guidelines that are in place to protect us all,” Matutle concluded.

AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Awards recognise sustainability in all its forms

The promise of a brighter future has driven countless South Africans to urban areas in search of job opportunities and ultimately a better future. As such, this influx in population has emphasised the need for cities to adopt and plan for green practices in highly populated areas to help meet the growing demand for infrastructure and services by retaining and expanding green infrastructure networks to ensure the proper functioning of natural ecological systems in urban areas.

In addition, the current Covid-19 reality has underlined the need for sustainable and green models to be implemented to ensure that society thrives particularly in times of crisis.

AfriSam – as an advocate of green initiatives and sustainable projects – celebrates the achievements of South African individuals and organisations in sustainable design through its biennial Sustainable Design Awards. The Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO), which was recognised in the 2017/18 awards for its research publication, entitled A framework for a green infrastructure planning approach in the Gauteng City-Region, has made great strides in providing the Gauteng government with insight into potential future green infrastructure possibilities.

According to Christina Culwick, Senior Researcher at GCRO and contributor to the publication, government is often restricted in what it is able to do from a research perspective, and tends to focus on situations that require immediate attention rather than long term projects. “The aim of our organisation is to provide the government in Gauteng with insight and data from our extensive research, allowing it to make informed decisions on potential future projects and how the successful implementation of these will benefit communities.”

GCRO is a partnership between Gauteng Provincial Government, Wits University, the University of Johannesburg and local government in Gauteng. The green infrastructure publication provides insights that were gleaned through various engagements with academic and government stakeholders, including from provincial and local government in Gauteng, as well as other interested stakeholders. Additionally, insights were obtained from number of experts, including the City of Cape Town and the University of Cape Town.

“If we are able to plan and build our cities in a way that takes ecological systems into account and specifically incorporate them into the infrastructure network, we will create a city region that not only provides more efficient services, but is a better place to live in and presents greater benefits to residents,” explains Culwick.

She says the aim of the report was to determine how Gauteng could successfully implement a green infrastructure approach. This meant taking into consideration several elements such as the foundation for a green infrastructure approach, expert insights into the application of these approaches, and finally the vision and process in applying such infrastructure in the Gauteng city region.

GCRO has provided several recommendations that are not only aimed at improving services, but benefit the communities and surrounding environment as well. The report calls for the development of local case studies to help understand how green infrastructure could be applied in Gauteng. One such study which has been subsequently undertaken, highlights the need to address the public spaces in informal settlements, which battle with issues such as excess surface water and sewerage flowing between dwellings. A series of green infrastructure interventions were implemented in Diepsloot, including rain gardens and soak-aways to make these areas more visually appealing, and reduce stagnant water. This not only makes the space more aesthetically-pleasing, but improves the health of residents in the area.

Another example of a successful green infrastructure intervention is the case of Atlasville in Ekurhuleni, which was prone to flooding. Several houses near the Atlas Spruit had become increasingly vulnerable to the flooding as they were built on the flood plain. Instead of laying concrete in the section of river channel where the flooding originated/occurred, the municipality chose to redesign the river section by harnessing nearby park space and incorporating reeds that would be most effective in helping manage the flooding.

“Not only did this improve the aesthetics of the area, but it enhanced the biodiversity of plant and animal life in the park,” says Culwick. “The project also improved the value of a number of homes in the area. Notably, the cost of the two options was similar, by the additional benefits achieved as a result of the green infrastructure option far outweighed the concrete channel alternative.”

AfriSam Sales and Marketing Executive, Richard Tomes, says the work by the GRCO forms part one of the four categories that the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Awards recognises, Research in Sustainability. “It is one of many exciting initiatives that are noted for their positive contribution to communities and their ability to reduce environmental impacts through initiatives such as water conservation and low impact and regenerative site development projects.”

The remaining three categories are Sustainable Architecture, Sustainable Products and Technology, and Sustainable Social Programmes, which recognise contributions that bring sustainable innovation to human living environments.

Launched in 2009, the competition has grown into South Africa’s most prestigious sustainable design awards programme, drawing an exciting range of entries in sustainable architecture, and creating public awareness and debate on sustainability in the built environment.

While the current pandemic has meant that potential candidates may have been unable to enter, AfriSam has provisioned additional time, extending entry submissions to 3 July 2020.

“The advent of Covid-19 and its resultant global disruptions has forced everyone to adopt new behaviours to ensure not only environmental sustainability, but peoples’ overall wellbeing. The pandemic has shone a light on the need for a more sustainable world and this truly emphasises the relevance of the awards and what they stand for,” concludes Tomes.

For more information on the AfriSam-SAIA Sustainable Design Award, please visit https://www.sustainabledesign.co.za/