University of Fort Hare Student Village

The largest student housing project ever undertaken by a South African public university is currently under construction at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) in the Eastern Cape. The 2 047-bed student village is being developed by student accommodation group STAG African in conjunction with East London-based contractor Dewing Construction. It aims to address a major accommodation shortage affecting UFH and create a student community conducive to academic success.

Lack of accommodation is one of the biggest challenges faced at UFH, which is home to over                        9 000 students. Currently, residences at the university’s Alice campus are barely able to accommodate 50% of the student population. With this project, the university aims to house 65% of students on campus, giving UFH the highest ratio of students to beds in the country.

“The fact that Alice and University of Fort Hare are in a rural area makes it incredibly important that the university supplies sufficient student accommodation. Fort Hare students who do not get into university residences are forced to seek accommodation elsewhere. For some, the only affordable options are far from campus, in areas with high crime rates and little infrastructure. Accommodation in these areas is not always academically conducive or well-regulated – students can find themselves housing that is over-crowded and under-serviced,” Director at STAG African, John Schooling, said.

To date, each sectional completion has been achieved on time and within budget. Phase one of the project, completed in 2014, saw 610 beds made available to the university. A further 1 437 beds have been completed in phase two, this has been funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training, the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the European Union and is valued at over R400-million.

Due to the remote location of the development in Alice, the development team faced certain logistical challenges.  “We had to be innovative in terms of finding solutions, since all of our materials were sourced from out of town. We brought in sand from the Great Fish River are, bricks from Bisho and Mount Coke, concrete, fill materials and aggregates from Fort Beaufort. Roughly 6,5-million bricks were transported from around 60 kilometres away,” Matthew Beard, Contracts Manager at Dewing Construction, said.

The development at the University of Fort Hare also contributed towards the general upliftment of Alice, surrounding towns and local residents through job creation, as well as the need for accommodation, food and other necessities. Local SMMEs were brought on board to assist, and through learning and skills development, will be positively impacted in the long term.

“One of our goals with this project was to train local employees in bricklaying, plastering, concrete works, shutter works, plumbing and scaffolding – to name a few. This type of skills development benefits our own workforce, as well as each individual who learns these skills,” said Beard.

Studies show that students who are not in on campus accommodation have a 50% chance of dropping out by the end of their first year. In contrast, a first-year student in good on-campus accommodation has an 80% chance of passing and is 50% less likely to drop out. For STAG and Dewing, good on-campus accommodation means providing more than just beds. Safety, internet connectivity, access to resources and social support, are all critical to a student’s ability to succeed.

“When a student is placed in temporary accommodation or is required to stay in accommodation that is unsafe, overcrowded and unhygienic, it’s no surprise when they can’t cope. Our goal with this development is to maximise student success through the provision of world-class accommodation, at an affordable price,” said Schooling.

The new UFH student village will also provide a dedicated postgraduate accommodation block and new student centre for studying and social events. “Over 60% of learning at the tertiary level occurs outside of a lecture hall, within the communities we create on campus – this is known as the hidden context of learning. STAG and Dewing’s vision for this development goes beyond providing accommodation; we want to create a sense of community and a feeling of belonging,” said Schooling.

One the biggest challenges faced during the development of the student village was the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown. Construction was forced to pause for three months, which resulted in delays and changes to the building scheduled. Despite this, the development is on track for completion in December 2020.

“Following the lockdown, we implemented strict health and safety measures in accordance with Covid-19 regulations. Physical distancing, the use of face masks, and continued education are among the measures we continue to take to prevent the spread of the virus, and ensure the safety of construction workers. On a project of this magnitude, we have to put in extra effort to ensure everyone is protected from risks,” said Beard.

In terms of the bigger picture, South Africa is experiencing a student housing crisis – government has acknowledged that an additional 300 000 beds are required to accommodate the nation’s students. “A big part of this is not just a lack of beds, but also a lack of innovation. In South Africa, the construction of student accommodation cannot be purely profit-driven, we have to consider the impact on our students, who represent the nation’s future,” said Schooling.

The student village at University of Fort Hare is not only a landmark achievement, but a positive step forward in terms of addressing the national student accommodation crisis. The challenge for universities and student housing providers is to prioritise the construction of affordable, world-class student housing that uplifts all parties involved.

STAG African

STAG African have delivered more than 3 000 beds across South Africa, including the greenest residence in Africa at Stellenbosch University. They are also in the process of funding the development of 34 000 beds at universities in Kenya, 4 700 in Malawi, 5 400 in Zambia and 3 000 in Lesotho. STAG’s holistic approach to campus development is guided by principles of community, flexibility, technology, sustainability, innovation, affordability, job creation and transformation. For more information, visit

Dewing Construction

Established in 1981, Dewing Construction is one of the leading construction companies in the Eastern Cape. Dewing has extensive experience in retail, fuel, hotel, student accommodation, schools, motor dealerships and hospitals over the past eleven years for both private and public sectors. The company, which is a BBBEE level 1 contributor, employs over 300 employees throughout the Eastern Cape and it is their policy to support local communities and small business enterprises surrounding their projects. Dewing is an active member of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), a registered as a level 9GB contractor (General building works with no limit), and a 5CE (Civil engineering works up to a contract value of R10 million). For more information, visit


The University of Fort Hare residence site was awarded 1st Place for Category H (R300-R500-million) of the Master Builders Association Regional Safety Competition.




Pandemics manifest in various ways, impacting all of us and leaving behind pain, suffering and disbelief. Not only is the coronavirus on the rampage, but Britain has in the past year experienced more than 2 000 asbestos-related deaths especially in construction related industries.

For many years, asbestos was used in almost every public and commercial building constructed before the 1980s across all continents. As a fireproofing material, it was applied on steel beams and columns during the construction of multi-storey buildings. Due to its strength, asbestos was added to concrete, asphalt, vinyl materials, roof shingles, pipes, siding, wall board, floor tiles, joint compounds and adhesives. Its heat-resistant qualities made asbestos the perfect thermal insulation material. The material was also used in acoustical plaster and as a component of a mixture sprayed on ceilings and walls. In short, it was the miracle material of the building industry.

Asbestos only becomes a hazard when it is not kept in a well-maintained state and exposed to weather conditions, or mistakenly damaged by renovators, installers, electricians, plumbers, etc. This poses a health risk to building occupants, employees, and maintenance workers due to the fine invisible fibres released into the air. If inhaled, it can penetrate into the deep gas exchange areas of the lungs. As a result of its characteristic properties, these almost chemically inert, aerodynamic and lightweight fibres cannot be removed from the lungs resulting in chronic illness and adverse, irreversible health effects. The risk is even greater, if the building is demolished, renovated, remodelled without adequate control measures in place. Repeated exposure to asbestos increases the risk of developing asbestos-related diseases with a cumulative effect.

In the Republic of South Africa, the Zondo Commission have recently untangled the corruption surrounding Asbestos in the Free State Province where a useful Asbestos Management tool was used to swindle millions out of taxpayers’ pockets. The occupants are still no closer to being rid of the silent killer in their houses.

Master Builders Association North (MBA North) facilitated various discussions and workshops with regards to the impact of the Asbestos Abatement Regulation in the construction Industry. The new Asbestos Abatement Regulation has finally been signed in Parliament and is underway to the Government printers. These regulations give guidance to all employers on the safe work management of asbestos, asbestos-containing materials and the recommended steps which need to be taken by the asbestos owner or persons employing individuals to work on asbestos.

For the first time, the Abatement Regulation calls for the owner of a building to have a document declaring that the building is free of asbestos. If asbestos is identified in the building, an Asbestos Management Plan and a Phase-out Plan for any asbestos on site is required. Banking and insurance industry are more knowledgeable on financing buildings containing asbestos owing to containing poorly maintained buildings which may be damaged extensively during heavy storms which may require repairs and pay-outs.

Before the commencement of maintenance, refurbishment, demolition of pre-existing structures or excavations where asbestos pipes / materials are found underground, the risk of potential exposure should be known and included in the management and or project plan. All hazardous chemical substances identified on the site should be removed before the dismantling and or demolition of structures is started. This asbestos work should be performed by a registered asbestos contractor and all waste which potentially contain asbestos, must be disposed of on a high hazardous (HH) waste facility.  The originator of such waste must retain a safe disposal certificate as proof thereof.

The Asbestos Abatement Regulation now also bans the use of high-pressure water jetting to clean asbestos containing materials as this may contribute to the release of debris which can lead to airborne asbestos fibres.

With the introduction of a new Regulation, the Chief Inspector of the Department of Employment and Labour pledged that the 500 newly appointed inspectors will be more proactive in enforcing the Occupational Health and Safety Act and its Regulations which includes the Asbestos Abatement Regulation.




Light Steel Frame Hospitals In Support Of The Fight Against The Coronavirus

By John Barnard, Director, SASFA

A total of eight projects, 39 000m2 floor area, using 1000 tons of LSF

It is easy to forget the anxiety that prevailed some six months ago when the Covid-19 infections ran rife. It was during this time that it was decided to urgently add hospital beds to existing capacities to cater for the expected exponential growth in demand for hospital facilities. The core requirement was that construction had to take place at a rate faster than what could be supplied by masonry construction. Accordingly, innovative building systems had to be considered, and light steel framing stood out as the most viable alternative.

A number of smaller hospital projects, not all related to Covid-19, was completed using light steel frame (LSF) during the first half of the year, viz

  • Niemeyer Hospital: Utrecht, KZN, client: DOH, Covid-19 related, scope: roof only, May to Aug 2020 (LSF contractor: Lakeshore Trading)
  • Sonstraal Hospital: Western Cape, client: DOH, scope: walls and roof, 1300m2 and 43t, July to Sept 2020 (LSF Contractor: Steel Modular Construction, Africa)
  • Dorris Goodwin Hospital: Client: DOH, 80m2, 1,5t, April 2020 (LSF contractor: Shospec)
  • Town Hill Hospital: Roof only, 2500m2 and 19t, Apr to Sept 2020 (LSF contractor: Shospec).
  • George Mukhari Hospital: Garankuwa, 746m2 floor area – floor joists, walls and roof. 22t of LSF used in a premanufactured panel system –10 blocks of 1 140m2 = > 63t of LSF
  • In Cape Town, LSFCo is busy with Sonstraal hospital in Paarl – 1 400m2, requiring about 47t LSF.


The two mega projects aimed at providing for the expected threat of Covid infections were the Jubilee field hospital in Hammanskraal (north of Pretoria), and the Baragwanath Hospital (near Soweto).

Project name: Jubilee field hospital, Hammanskraal (North of Pretoria)

Concor was the main contractor for the Jubilee Field Hospital. Futurecon was awarded the contract for the supply and erection of the LSF for the internal and external walls and roofs, clad, lined and insulated with windows installed. From 27 July 2020 they had to complete the project in 10 weeks on 27 September 2020.

The project entailed the supply of 10 000m2 of hospital wards and associated buildings, housing beds in general wards, and in high and intensive care. The foundations were supplied by Concor.

Futurecon had to hand over 1 000m2 of hospital buildings per week. And they kept to the programme, barring two weeks when they were not allowed onto the site due to disturbance caused by the local communities.

They used fibre cement external cladding, supplied by Etex Group (Marley Building Systems). OSB timber strips were used as thermal break between the external cladding and the LSF. A vapour permeable membrane was installed around the outside of the wall frames to waterproof and draughtproof the buildings, while allowing any vapour in the wall cavities to escape outwards. 102mm thick Cavity Bat glass wool insulation was installed in the wall cavities, with 15mm fireproof gypsum board on the inside, to provide a 1-hour fire rating.

The installers of the services found installation in the LSF walls very easy and quick, as there was no cutting and chasing of masonry walls required. They were able to carry out their work in tandem with the LSF project teams, speeding up the completion of the final project.

Even before this project was finished, enquiries were received to upgrade the existing Jubilee hospital, and to supply hospital buildings in sub-Saharan Africa.

Project name: Baragwanath Hospital, Soweto

The Gauteng Department of Infrastructural Development issued a project to add 500 ICU beds to Baragwanath Hospital to supply additional ICU capacity for Covid-19 patients, and thereafter to serve as a permanent extension of the hospital.

The floor area of the 20-ward expansion is 23000 m2 which includes passageways and ancillary buildings. Approximately 470 tons of LSF (20kg / m2) was supplied for the single storey extension with roof trusses spanning 27m between external walls.

Trumod was appointed as a subcontractor to Bambanani Construction, who in turn were contracted to Enza Construction for the building of the 500-bed ICU facility at Baragwanath Hospital.

Rolling and assembly of the LSF wall panels and roof strusses by Trumod started on 7 August 2020, and was essentially completed by mid-October 2020, on time, eight weeks from start – which meant delivery of LSF for 2 000m2 of floor area per week.

Trumod rolled the LSF, and assembled wall panels and trusses at their factory in Springs before delivery to site. Most of the internal walls consist of standard drywall construction, ie 63mm wide non-loadbearing drywall studs, clad with gypsum board. Trumod also supplied the profiled roof sheet for the entire project.

The Baragwanath project has been a great example of all the benefits that LSF has to offer – speed of construction, off-site fabrication which reduced the number of workers on site, accuracy, good insulation and neat finishes. Whilst the start of the project was delayed due to architectural and engineering issues, once the green light was given, Trumod managed to claw back on lost time and the project is shortly due for completion.



How Does Local Government In SA Stack Up To Global Rivals?

The recent Auditor General of South Africa’s (AGSA) report on the performance of local government has revealed that municipalities are in need of strong governance and better reporting, with only 7,3% of municipalities achieving a clean audit. The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) has recently published a national equivalent of the international standard ISO 18091: Quality management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 9001 and believes that the implementation can assist to improve the performance of local government in delivering high quality public products and services underpinned by effective governance, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms.

“Globally local governments face challenging issues regarding delivery of quality products and services to local communities. In tandem with this they must ensure full compliance with the various laws and regulations when conducting their business. Developed in consultation with national standards bodies from various countries, the ISO 18091 standard sets out the globally recognised principles of quality management in local government. The adoption of ISO 18091 as SANS/ISO 18091 provides the opportunity for South African local authorities to embed quality management into their service delivery efforts thus giving local citizens and ratepayers confidence in their management and planning processes. We believe that it is imperative that local government become familiar with the standard to ensure that their performance and service delivery execution is aligned to international best practice,” says Dr Sadhvir Bissoon, Standards Executive at the SABS.

The SANS/ISO 18091 is the first standard that is directed at the public sector and provides detailed annexures to provide checklists and processes that aids the implementation. The national standard, which contains elements of ISO 9001: quality management systems, is suitable for all local authorities and helps them to evaluate and diagnose their operating models, processes and delivery of services.

“The SABS understands that the maturity of local municipalities, in terms of systems and processes, may not be at the required level and SANS/ISO 18091 is an indispensable stepping stone to becoming more effective. We are also aware that the 91-page document, which contains a wealth of technical information, needs to be workshopped amongst management and the SABS will be offering a series of workshops, training and advisory services that will be directed at this level of government. We also believe that the adoption of the standard will help strengthen many of the regulations that National Treasury has put in place for entities governed by the PFMA and the MMFA,” explains Bissoon.

Details of upcoming engagements will be posted on the SABS website and all enquiries can be sent to


Realising the Potential of Cape York

Previously owned by the Bank of Mozambique and abandoned, Cape York had been hijacked and fraudulently sold, with several “owners” allowing it to become severely overcrowded and collecting rent illegally. It was infamous as a hub for drug trafficking and prostitution, lacked running water, power and sanitation and had seen two fires that claimed lives.

Hijacked buildings like this have become all too common in South Africa’s inner cities. These high-rises have not only become dangerous to live in but pose a threat to neighbouring buildings, impacting social safety as a whole.

Cape York, situated in Doornfontein on the corner of Nugget and Rahima Moosa Street, epitomised the negative impact of hijacked buildings on neighbourhoods and society. Originally a 10-storey office building with retail shops on the ground floor, employees who worked in the building started living there in 1997. As the building became more neglected, more people moved in, leading to severe overcrowding.

To compound this issue, the building was fraudulently sold to a group of investors – a discovery the appointed attorneys made during the transfer process. Once this was legally rectified, Samuel Beyin saw potential in the embattled building and bought out the shareholding of the Cape York owned entity.

Despite calls to simply demolish the then-derelict building after a second fire claimed seven lives in 2017, Beyin was determined to realise the building’s potential and transform it into a viable and safe rental property. He renamed the building Focus 1 and invested his own capital before approaching TUHF for a loan. The total cost of the project including refurbishment was R100 million.

The project presented many design, technical and construction challenges. But Beyin and TUHF focused on the opportunities to collaborate and resolve these creatively. The expected completion date was March 2020 but – because the finished building would provide student accommodation for up to 538 young people – Samuel and his team pushed through over the festive season to achieve practical completion on 28 January, well ahead of programme and in time for the new year.

The refurbished building consists of spacious two-bed and four-bed unit apartments as student accommodation offering, and communal study and social areas on the fifth floor. Each apartment is leased fully furnished, incorporating beds, cupboards and clever additional storage solutions under the beds that may be used to store textbooks and other study paraphernalia, as well as private bathrooms with a toilet and shower, a small kitchenette with a sink and eating area.

The building has full communal kitchens, with microwaves and stoves where students can prepare meals, as well as social areas to allow tenants a safe and comfortable space to interact and relax. Wifi, laundry facilities, an in-house gym, a library, football and basketball fields, state-of-the art biometric access to ensure safety and transport to and from campus complete the list of amenities that make Focus 1 such a sought-after home for students.

The surrounding universities were then invited to view the building in January 2020 and at the time, they immediately started referring students to take up tenancy. While tenanting the building was temporarily affected by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the national lockdown and physical distancing measures to support containing the spread of the virus, tenancy is expected to pick up once on-site classes and attendance at the surrounding universities is allowed to resume – and toward the 2021 academic year.

In addition, the innovative building design is future proofed and constructed in such a way that it allows for fluent conversion. Should the market change, Focus 1 can easily be converted to normal apartments for rental stock should the owner decide.


The Perfect Tool For Crane Planning

Whether planning a new factory, plant or warehousing extensions, drawing up architectural plans or designs that accurately reflect crane space requirements will save time, eliminate cost wastage whilst enhancing productivity and safety.

Architects, industrial designers and metal building manufacturers can now access vast amounts of crane-related data and the Konecranes electronic crane catalogue by using their Crane Planner tool. The embedded and simple online search tool offers a quick source of referencing for correct crane selection, crane space requirements, wheel loads, 3D models and 2D drawings.

“Our simple crane planning tool, Crane Planner, enables designers, particularly architects and metal building manufacturers, to quickly specify their crane requirements, view and compare designs via access to over 1000 pre-design cranes with 2D and 3D drawings,” said Emil Berning, Managing Director.

“We believe the Crane Planner tool offered by Konecranes also functions as an educational tool, in terms of how to minimise total costs and add value through correct crane selection, installation and improved crane handling procedures – all factors that impact positively upon safety, a non-negotiable element of crane usage,” said Berning.

What Crane Planner offers

Konecranes’ Crane Planner tool has been specifically designed for architectural use, making design, comparison and final blueprints for crane requirements quicker, more thoroughly researched and more cost-effective.

It offers:

  • 2D and 3D drawings with wheel loads and build-in dimensions
  • Online access to over 1000 pre-design cranes
  • Creates unique value by providing technical consultation
  • Eliminates down time for building designers
  • Creates tighter cooperation between builders and consultants
  • Offers a hub with brochures and cross references from similar cases
  • Optimises the crane and building process at the same time, making it a win-win for all parties

Berning said: “The application of the crane and associated lifting systems is an element that should receive more focus in the very early stages of the design of suggested building plans. Incorrect space allocation and confined and non-practical operational placement places operators in a possibly unsafe workspace which could have major health and safety consequences. Likewise, the choice of the wrong crane type and associated components has an immediate impact on a company’s return on investment and performance levels. Both of these elements have a direct impact of cost-efficiencies at site.”

“Our Crane Planner is a key tool to ensure that crane planning is accurately researched, giving architects access to all critical information and best in design that is needed to ensure that the resulting crane installation is functional, correctly installed, gives optimised performance and is 100% safety compliant. Metal building manufacturers who need the crane data as a base of the dimensioning of the building will find Crane Planner of particular benefit.

“This online tool is another element of Konecranes’ ongoing investment into technology that enables us to offer high-performance, practical and safe lifting solutions to our customers. It enables us to strengthen our customer relationships through an improved awareness of our services and products and to build upon our reputation as the preferred crane supplier,” concluded Berning.

Crane Planner demonstration video:



MBA North and PRAWA partner to bring standards to the roofing industry

The Master Builders Association (MBA) North and the Professional Roof Repair and Waterproofing Association (PRAWA) have agreed to collaborate in order to accelerate the drive to introduce standards for the roofing and waterproofing industry.

“The start of the rainy season on the highveld is a good time to drive home the message that it does not pay to take short cuts when it comes to roofing and waterproofing. During tough economic times like the present, people can be tempted to go with the cheapest option, and then later find that sub-standard materials were used and there is no accountability,” says JJ Conradie, Executive Chair at PRAWA. “PRAWA was founded with the aim of helping the industry improve its skills and to provide a way to hold contractors accountable for the standard of the work they deliver to clients.”

“The MBA, and MBA North in particular, is doing a great job in helping the broader construction industry to upskill and to adhere to a proper professional code, so this alliance makes perfect sense.”

Conradie says thousands of people are active in the industry – participants range from handymen right up to industrial and commercial applicators dealing with sophisticated applications in the industrial, commercial and domestic sectors. While some contractors specialise in this area, others offer a range of construction services of which waterproofing and roof repair are just two.

Boitumelo Thipe, Marketing and Business Development Manager at MBA North says that the alliance with PRAWA is welcome because it brings an important sector within the construction industry into the fold. “Setting professional standards and providing training opportunities are essential ingredients of creating a professional industry that is able to gain the trust of the public, and can provide sustainable jobs,” she says. “Working with MBA North, PRAWA can play a massive role in improving the industry’s skills and thus opening up new opportunities, which is something our country desperately needs. Just as MBA-accredited builders are preferred by clients, in due course we will start to see PRAWA-accredited roof repairers and waterproofers identified as suppliers of choice.”

Conradie says that upskilling is an important foundation for creating a credible profession. To that end, PRAWA has teamed up with Roofing Academy, which offers CETA accredited training for waterproofing up to NQF Level 2, thus providing an excellent starting point in the journey to upskill the industry. Experienced roofers will also be able to gain certification through recognition of prior learning.

Skilled, accredited staff are more motivated and take more of a pride in their work – a great bonus for both their employers and clients, he points out. They are also better positioned to build careers rather than simply do jobs.

PRAWA has arranged a sub-committee that will work towards setting up a minimum standard for the industry. This sub-committee is made up of current industry role players, including:

  • Browns Proofing
  • Blakmar
  • African Rope Access
  • Peche Roofing
  • WNS Waterproofing
  • JBC Roof Cover
  • Dusty Moon Construction

“By setting standards we will help to make the industry more accountable, more professional and ultimately more profitable,” Conradie concludes. “The final piece of the puzzle is to provide an interface between contractors and their clients. PRAWA offers clients the option of getting completed work inspected by a PRAWA-affiliated inspector, and inspectors can assist in resolving disputes.”

Construction students build careers despite COVID-19

According to the International Monetary Fund, the construction sector was one of the industries that was most affected by COVID-19. However, this hasn’t deterred a group of local Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) students who completed their learnerships in the face of adversity and have only been more inspired to grow their careers, become independent and start their own businesses.

This is according to Letitia van Rensburg, Training Officer at Master Builders’ Association for the Western Cape (MBAWC), who explained that the company’s most recent OHS Learnership Programme started in March 2019 with 9 out of 11 students graduating in September 2020.

“The purpose of this programme was to take an individual with a passion for OHS from a low knowledge base up to the required level in order to become a professional in a period of 18-24 months,” she said.

To take part in this programme, the entry-level requirement was for a learner to have a Grade 12 certificate, be medically fit to work on a site and to reside in the Cape Town area and surrounds, van Rensburg added.  “The programme also gave the learners the ability to earn and learn, while gaining valuable experience in the profession and working towards a qualification.”

However, this year was an anomaly due to COVID-19, which most of the learners tackled head-on with positivity, optimism, and the resolve to complete the course and grow their careers.

One of the students, Cleopatra Mnqanqeni said, “Not only was I afforded time in the hard lockdown to work on my portfolio and logbook, but I was also able to reflect on how the items fit together.  Post lockdown put us in a position where we had to assist Grinaker-LTA with new COVID-19 regulations.  We had to work as a team on new implementation guidelines of unfamiliar content.  We were also forced to use electronic platforms such as Zoom which was a good learning curve.”

Deen Lewis agreed, pointing out that he had to put in a lot more hard work and effort while things were rough during the hard lockdown.  “I refused to give up, because if I made it this far – I could make the programme and get through his period.”

“I found that I was able to push my own boundaries and that dedication, commitment and hard work pays off in the end,” said Engelina Gama. “I am now inspired to move from a Candidate Construction Health and Safety Officer (CHO) to a full safety management role as a professional OHS Manager. I would also like to mentor new people coming into this role.”

Jadon Davids wants to become an OHS management expert and even be able to consult around the world. “On-site the COVID-19 regulations made a new level of compliance a reality.  We had to implement and manage new rules, and still practice all the other safety aspects on a site. Working in construction, I had already seen a need for safety, but this took it to a new level and was a great opportunity for me to learn and further my career.”

“The lockdown made it easier to just focus on the work that needed to be done which made it easier to focus on the learning and not worry about much else,” said Khanyisiwe Futshane. “This was a small blessing in a way and now that I have completed the course, I can see the path for my future.”

  “I simply decided that the programme was worth every sacrifice and dedicated my time to ensure that I achieve the desired outcome,” added Mischa Arendse. “I have now set myself up for the future, will make better earnings, have more training opportunities and be able to further my professional development.

Celine van Wyk said that meeting different people from various communities was a highlight for her. “The fact that I was exposed to a new world of diversity and learning was really pushing me to grow. I was very shy when I joined the programme and I am now able to express myself in my own voice. I want to remain in the Construction Industry as an OHS practitioner for the foreseeable future.”

This programme was a passion point for Rael Jacobs who said: “The opportunity aligned with a strong social need to eliminate risk and hazards in our environments. Construction OHS fits my passions. I am looking forward to registering with the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professionals as an OHS practitioner, with the goal of gaining working experience in other regions of the world too.”

Tjeka Training Matters was a training partner for the programme and really solidified the importance of mentorship, said Letitia van Rensburg.  “The training company took a strong lead in having an appointed mentor for the student to refer to in their portfolio work, as well as during their time on-site.”

“However, you cannot yield success in a process like this without the learner’s own ability to be dedicated to the learning process.  It is not always an easy path being a working person and learning, but these learners showed initiative and passion to get to CHO status,” she concluded.

Construction industry seeks solutions to ‘disruptive’ local business forums

Business forums – groupings representing local communities who disrupt building sites – are here to stay and the construction sector needs to find ways to include them in construction projects. This was the outcome of a panel discussion comprising contractors, the South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) and a body representing business forums held recently at MDA Attorneys’ annual Collective Wisdom event in Johannesburg.

“It is unfair to characterise emerging contractors and business forums as hooligans and thugs. They are legitimate business people who want to participate in the projects in their areas,” said Robert Ndlela, secretary-general of the Federation for Radical Transformation (FFRET) adding that the organisation was formed to deal with site disruptions as well as to ensure that members are actively involved in projects in their areas. He conceded that there are factions which exploit the situation to drive their own agenda, but emphasized the importance of open dialogue between contractors and business forums.

SANRAL’s head of transformation, Ismael Essa, said that his organisation has invested heavily in creating a 14-point plan in its projects which includes pre-tender training for emerging contractors and identifying local resources in the design phase. “SANRAL’s investment in training emerging local contractors equates to about 5% of contract value, but the contract risk sits squarely with contractors, who must bear and deal with civil unrest risk,” said Essa.

Ayanda Notshweleka, MD of construction contractor Masakhane PM, disagreed. “It is incorrect that contractors should be at the coal-face with business forums. It is the employer, the designer of the work, who should have a clear understanding of the dynamics. Talking to local participants should be taking place at design phase, not once the contractor is already on site,” he said.

Derek Goodwin, contracts director at Stefanutti Stocks, noted that there are several grey areas open to interpretation which should be clarified, such as the definition of what constitutes local labour and skills development requirements.  “Meaningful skills transfer and transformation are important issues, so we should assign importance to them in our contracts. All parties should be involved – the contractor also has to meet the imperative of a low price for the works, while making allowances for skills transfer.”

“Most contractors have shed jobs and there is little incentive to invest in skills training,” says Ian Massey, director at MDA Consulting. “A due diligence should be undertaken to identify the availability of required skills within designated groups in the area. We need a structured plan to ensure all workers complete projects with enhanced skills.”

According to Notshweleka, three simple steps are required: structure documents to align with legislation, be clear on what is to be delivered and engage meaningfully with the community to which the project is being delivered.

Essa called for flexibility, citing a clash of legislation between BEE rules and local involvement. “FFRET members cannot expand their enterprises if they are confined to a single geographical area. It doesn’t make sense to have an emerging contractor with experience who cannot contribute to broader economic growth and transformation in a different region,” he said.

MDA Collective Wisdom is held annually to promote the future of the South African construction industry through constructive dialogue. Says Massey, “This issue is emotive and complex, but we believe it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that people have the opportunity to participate in the economy and construction and that all players can go about their business unhindered.”

SACPCMP Examinations to Commence in October 2020

The South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) confirms that its registration examinations will resume as of 20 October 2020. The examination process was put on hold due to a combination of Covid-19 related event restrictions under the National Lockdown period, as well as the upgrade of the Council’s registration system. However, with the move to Lockdown Level 1, the Council will resume with examinations as of this month.

“The Council commenced with its interview processes last month, observing all the necessary Covid-19 safety protocols,” said SACPCMP Registrar, Mr. Butcher Matutle. “We are now very pleased to announce that examinations will resume on 20 October in Gauteng.”

Matutle said the first examination groups to be presented in Gauteng would assist in addressing the examinations backlog that developed over the past few months. The Council would also, during the next three weeks, look to arrange additional examination sittings in KwaZulu-Natal, the Western Cape, Mpumalanga and the Free State.

Falling Prey to Fake News

The Registrar however cautioned Registered Persons and examination applicants to be wary of fake news and incorrect reports regarding the examinations. “A considerable amount of fake news has made its way to social media and communication platforms over the past weeks. Certain sites and fake announcements have noted inaccurate reports. One of these being that examinations will not take place this year – I must state that this is untrue, and stakeholders should not fall prey to inaccurate or fake announcements,” he said.

Matutle confirmed that the Council was aware of the names of those who had been involved in communicating fake news and an investigation into this was underway. “Industry professionals have a duty to ensure that the information they dispense is accurate and their actions align to the Code of Conduct agreed upon via the registration process. As a Council, we are working very hard to improve our services and systems amidst trying circumstances, and we appeal to Construction Professionals to support these efforts by ensuring that their interactions with each other are based on truthful, reliable information.”

Examination Booking Details
The SACPCMP’s examination booking system will open from Saturday, 10 October 2020. This can be accessed via the examination applicants’ personal registration profile page. However, not ALL applicants need to book (see below).

The October SACPCMP examination batch will be divided into two groups:
Group 1
The first group will cater to a pre-selected group of confirmed examination applicants that have already paid for their examination fees. These people will be:
– Contacted directly regarding their examination details and
– Need NOT book via the Council’s examination booking system.
Group 2
The second examination batch will cater to examination applicants that have not yet paid their examination fees but have been invited to sit for the examination. These applicants:
– MUST utilise the Council’s examination booking system to select their examination dates and book their examination slots.

Online Examinations Coming Soon
“In addition to presenting ‘manual’ examinations, we will also launch online examinations via our upgraded registration system in the next few weeks. This will provide access to applicants who face travel or time restraints and offer a more convenient examination solution to our registration applicants going forward,” said Matutle.
Any questions regarding the SACPCMP examination bookings can be sent to the Council’s Customer Relationship Management team via one of the following email addresses: