Construction Health and Safety Under the Microscope At FEM’s 2020 Health And Safety Awards

This year, the Federated Employers Mutual Assurance Company (RF) (Pty) Ltd (FEM) 2020 Health and Safety awards were held digitally for the first time in the award’s history, in line with Covid-19 precautions. The awards enable FEM to recognise member companies in the construction industry which have maintained high standards of health and safety (H&S) in the workplace.

Witty raconteur Dr Riaad Moosa was MC and kept the e-audience in stiches with his social commentary and impersonations. The comedian described how his comedy gigs had dried up in the face of Covid-19. He considered going back to medicine, but said he remembered nothing of medical school, and so considered a life of petty crime, which would prove impossible considering how well-recognised he is, even with a mask on.

Nico Maas, Board Chairperson, spoke about red tape at construction sites hindering productivity, thanked those behind the scenes making the awards event possible, and expressed positivity about the industry going back to normal due to the roll-out of Government infrastructure projects.

Ndivhuwo Manyonga, CEO, FEM, welcomed virtual attendees and nominees, highlighting their importance as the reason for the awards. She emphasised the timeliness of best practice H&S measures in construction, and spoke about how Covid-19 had further exposed the vulnerabilities of workers across the world in the context of job security, and health and safety itself.

Manyonga applauded health and safety officials in the construction industry for their efforts in keeping work sites virus-free, but reminded the audience that worker H&S was an issue before the pandemic. She cited the International Labour Organisation’s estimation that 374 million global men and women suffer non-fatal work-related injuries and illnesses annually.  A further 2,8 million succumb to their injuries.

FEM provides workmen’s compensation for the construction industry, under licence from the Department of Employment and Labour, covering more than 5 000 employers and 300 000 employees. FEM receives approximately 8 000 accident reports every year, many of which could have been avoided. Injured parties’ lives are forever changed as a result of their injuries, even if these are not fatal.

A number of H&S initiatives have been undertaken by FEM to promote H&S in the industry, including the loadings and rebates applied to clients based on their H&S experience, grants provided to industry associations, seminars and webinars with content based on H&S trends in South Africa (including the impacts of Covid-19 and motor vehicle accidents) and the distribution of 75 000 masks to construction companies requiring assistance.

“We believe it is important for us to celebrate, award and reward construction companies demonstrating H&S practices of a high standard,” Manyonga commented. ”We would like to thank these construction companies on behalf of their employees for showing us that zero harm is indeed possible. It just takes the right behaviour, attitude and focus, in spite of challenging circumstances, extra expense and effort. A safe and healthy work environment is a basic human right.”

Yusuf Bodiat, CFO, FEM, presented the awards, commenting that safety is not expensive, it is priceless. He added that FEM’s more than 5 000 policy holders work in different environments, geographic locations, have different numbers of staff, and work in different risk areas. For the awards, each policy holder is categorised into various groups, following a simple three-step process.

The first step is to recognise that each policy holder works in a different risk environment – high, medium and low risk, using premium assessment rates as a guide to categorising their risk ratings. Policyholders are then split further, based on the number of employees, because as the company’s staff contingent changes, so does the risk profile. These categories are a small, medium and high employee base.

The third criterion is geographic location, as different locations have different risks. Using regional FEM offices as a guideline, these are divided into Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Cape (in the broadest sense) and Inland (non-coastal areas). Each policy holder is assessed and ranked within their different groups, following the principles of accident frequency (the amount of employees who incur accidents as a percentage of all employees) and the claims loss ratio over a period of time (the amount of claims FEM pays in proportion to the premiums received over a period of one years.)

FEM then applies rules from a fairness perspective to ensure that all award receiving policy holders are entitled to their awards. All policy holders in each category are then subjected to threshold / minimum criteria measurements, and any policy holders with fatalities in the period under review are excluded.

Policy holders receiving awards comprise a small percentage (2,5%) of the total number of policy holders, a testament to the high standards of H&S protocols recognised by the awards. Award recipients raise the H&S bar.

The criteria for the Special Health and Safety Awards disclude risk, location and employee numbers, so all policy holders fall within the same category, and the period in which claims are assessed is 10 years to reward consistent H&S practices. The top four policy holders in this category receive either a Platinum, Gold, Silver or Bronze Award.

All FEM policy holders who receive the latter awards obtain bragging rights within the industry as well as additional financial incentives, getting rebates from FEM which are calculated based on the company’s most recent rebate.

Guest speaker, Lynette Ntuli, CEO, Innate Investment Solutions, delivered an inspiring speech in which she highlighted the lessons learned from 2020, and the resilience and size of the fight in each of us. Ntuli remarked that working from home has meant studies or home offices have turned into marketplace coal faces, and the sounding boards of corporate boardrooms.

Because of lockdown, rules, she said, have had to be rewritten as we navigated through unprecedented times. We were faced with an invisible, non-preemptable foe and Ntuli described the various emotional states we as global citizens experienced as the viral narrative unfolded, ranging from hysteria and anxiety to indifference. Group projects via Zoom have become the norm.

But, we have survived and have acquired new skills; learning new ways of working and playing.  Through collaboration and cooperation, many policy holders have been able to avoid accidents and injuries. Women are key contributors to health and safety – from home schoolers to heads of state.

Ntuli spotlighted the relatively lower Covid-19 death rates in countries headed by women leaders, who exerted timely control measures and actions to reduce population mortality. Citizens of these countries may also well emerge with better economic and social conditions than their global counterparts.

Ntuli concluded by citing transparency, truth, warmth, openness, communication, coordination, compassion, desciveness, agility and servant leadership as qualities exhibited by women leaders to lead their nations into healthier and safer societies after the pandemic, leaving no-one behind.

Well done to all nominees and winners for raising the health and safety bar higher each year! See you all in 2021.

Here follows the list of winners of the FEM’s 2020 Health and Safety Awards:

2020 – Winners List

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.



PrīmX – Future Ready Jointless Flooring In South Africa

Concrete is one of the most frequently used building materials but has remained mostly unchanged. Traditional
concrete is cement, stone, and sand, sometimes reinforced with mesh. Strong in compression but weak in tension. Concrete is prone to shrinkage, cracking, and curling, resulting in significant maintenance budgets for
warehousing facilities.

Welcome to the world’s first FUTURE READY JOINT LESS FLOOR!

SA Builder met Brett Meadway – Primekss Technical Sales Manager in South Africa, and got the insight on the flooring technology that, as he says, “will raise the design and execution methods of concrete slabs to a completely new level.”

How did your journey in PrīmX start?

Primekss, based in Latvia, EU, is the inventor and patent holder of the world’s first truly jointless concrete technology PrīmX, well known since 1997. The Company however, had a modest beginning as a specialist flooring covering (epoxy and other) company, but after some period customers complained about the quality of the finish due to the concrete below the coating failing again and again. So, they started to search for the reason…

It was clear that traditional concrete cracks and curling were due to the drying shrinkage impacting the coating that we would add. And, what started out as an effort to understand, how to improve the concrete base on which the coatings would be applied, turned into a complete focus, research and business model on how to reduce and eliminate the negative effects of shrinkage in concrete slabs.

At the same time, throughout the 1990s, steel fibre reinforced concrete (SFRC) started becoming popular in
Europe through the life work of Mr Xavier Destrée, ir. FACI. R. and D, Structural consultant, ARCELORMITTAL.
SFRC has provided a major improvement in crack control and curling and has been adopted by Primekss and it
became a commercial success in Northern Europe. While Primekss was able to control cracking and curling more
effectively, the concrete still suffered from shrinkage.

Later Primekss secured research support from the EuropeanUnion (in 2007) to address the key issue of SFRC: shrinkage. In collaboration with academics from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Belgium and Latvia was developed a new revolutionary shrinkage controlling concrete system – the first version of what is now known as PrīmX. Very soon the worldwide patent was achieved and thus opened the opportunity for Primekss to significantly widen the

PrīmX is now selling its technology in over 25 countries. Until now, more than 15 million square metres of PrīmX
floors have been casted. PrīmX unique system has been awarded with various industry awards and is one of very
few technologies receiving four Most Innovative Products (MIP) Awards, issued during world’s largest concrete
industry event – World of Concrete in Las Vegas, USA.

So, when I was invited to join the company and open it tothe South African market, I welcomed the offer without
much hesitation. This opportunity not only allows me to connect my family in Latvia with my relatives here in South
Africa, but also gives the possibility to build a better future for my four children.

I profoundly respect Primekss’ core value – sustainable development. Climate change is no longer an issue for the
future but a reality of our present day. To help avoid the climate crisis, we need to act now and use more advanced
technologies to save our world. Cement manufacturing itself is responsible for more than 7% of global CO2
emissions, which is why PrīmX is so important – with better materials and optimized design, we significantly reduce the environmental footprint – on average saving 40% of CO2 compared to traditional concrete solutions.

Was it easy to launch the business here?

Not at all! This was a major challenge at the outset – PrīmX entered the South African market in 2014, when steel fibre reinforced concrete had just started to be introduced. It took a lot of time and energy to market Primekss high
performance SFR concrete with a focus on reducing shrinkage through addition of special additives, careful mix
design optimisation and quality control through the whole production process to ensure confidence in our system.

The only thing we source locally is the raw materials for the 30 MPa readymix – concrete stone, sand, and cement.
However, it is vital to maintain a high degree of concrete consistency and cooperation with local ready-mix suppliers
to provide a reliable and predictable standard for PrīmX.

It was a real problem before I got to know Pronto Building Materials, which is now our main supplier in SA. Fortunately, with Pronto, we were able to obtain a quality washed crushed sand as well as a washed natural river sand filler.

All cement and aggregate samples are shipped to Riga, to our Primekss lab where concrete engineers analyse the raw
materials for their reactivity with our admixtures. None of PrīmX admixtures are sourced locally as they all are under
strict patent review and we manufacture and deliver them from Europe, Latvia.

Even traditional SFRC concrete is available. What is the difference and advantage of PrīmX?

Well, that is easy to answer. Traditional concrete floor specification will be required for a standard 30MPa mix
supplied daily by a readymix plant without any specific effort to address shrinkage. The traditional solution is
limited to 30x30m (900m2) jointless panels and, depending on the load requirements (e. 75 KN btb 150 KN), a slab of 180mm could be constructed.

If the shrinkage is not addressed, 100m of joints will begin to open within months of casting and begin to curl, eventually leading to severe joint damage. Pretty soon the client willstart to have huge maintenance expense to repair 100s of metres of joints and damaged equipment, not to mention significantly higher hazard risk at the workplace.

Instead of that, PrīmX is limited only by day joints, saving 100s of metres of joint damage and allowing for a load
requirement of 75 kN btb 150 kN on a 90mm slab.

As a PrīmX floor doesn’t require additional reinforcement with mesh, construction time for the same size of a slab
is approximately 30% shorter. Imagine how much can a project manager do with an extra month or so?

With no curling and controlled shrinkage PrīmX floors when cast flat, stays flat for its lifetime, saving a lot of time and money for maintenance. Well managed quality control on site, with a backup support from an experienced concrete engineering team in Primekss lab, offers a predictable, consistent quality no matter where the project is located.

How is a consistent quality achieved?

The success of the PrīmX slab relies on full on-site supervision by a professional team. My job is to ensure
that Primekss local partner is qualified to meet all the requirements of PrīmX. All factors, impacting the quality
of the final result are captured on-line via PrīmX’s own quality control system, thus we can monitor and react to
any changes very quickly.

Can you tell more about the current projects you are working on?

Despite the lockdown this year for PrīmX South Africa has been very intense. I can highlight, as an example, these two projects:

KIT KAT Distribution centre, Pretoria West, 14000m2
The brand Kit Kat is recognized as one of the leading brands in the FMCG industry today, and it symbolizes the trust of our customers. In 2019, PrīmX secured Phase 1 and in 2020 Phase 2. The customer required a modern high-quality slab to compliment the brands modernization. PrīmX design offered a jointless solution and a slab so strong that 90mm could handle racking load of 75 KN btb 150 kN.

DSV Logistics Warehouse, Kempton Park, 110 000m2 – is Danish transport and logistics company offering transport services globally by road, air, sea and train. Its main activities lie within road transport (trucking) networks in Europe, North America and South Africa, and its global air and sea freight forwarding business.

In 2020, this important project was secured with a PrīmX Jointless floor. The project was divided into a 31 500m2 Crossdock and a 78 000m2 Main Warehouse. The Crossdock, was designed with Primx jointless solution
for huge loading from a sorter and mezzanine and was completed in July 2020.

The Main Warehouse required the PrīmX design to handle up to 123 kN btb 246 kN racking loads, with our system toan extremely high tolerance not yet seen in South Africa. In fact, we are currently casting the Main Warehouse and
setting a record in South Africa with 10’500m2 cast every 5 days. I am proud of my local flooring partner, Chris Howes and his company CHC-SA with whom I have a partnership.”

What does Future Ready, Joint Free Floors mean?

To cope with today’s ever-changing industrial environment, everything must be flexible. The recent global pandemic has shown that dramatic change can happen instantly: production shutdowns due to infected workers, material availability challenges, changes in many processes, and the critical need for facility cleanliness.

Every aspect of an industrial facility should be designed and built to be adaptable for future challenges, including
the floors. Only jointless, saw-cut free floors allow for the true flexibility: no limitations for racking placement, easy
system replacements, true flatness in long term for fast operations, precise slab with no shrinkage movement ready
for automated robotic solutions and more. In addition to complete flexibility, the PrīmX jointless floor is 30% faster to be installed, shortens the overall construction schedule and costs, maintains full warranty (design, materials, execution) and ensures consistent high quality in each project due to the design of the system.

To get full scope of #FutureReady concrete floors and how with PrīmX technology you can reach significant increase in ROI, you are welcome to join the upcoming webinar. The Webinar is scheduled for September 22, 2020 13:00 to
14:30 GMT, in Zoom.

During the session essential long-term benefits of PrīmX high-performance flooring solutions will be highlighted.
For more information contact Brett on +27 084 837 8654 ,email, or visit



AfriSam: Creating Concrete Possibilities

“AfriSam has been operating for more than 85 years and despite the extremely tough economic environment, the company still has a vision of being around and making a positive contribution to the development of our country’s infrastructure through the products and services it provides, but first, we have to position our business correctly so that we can successfully navigate our way through the current storms and the headwinds facing our industry in the
next two to three years,” says Richard Tomes, AfriSam’s Sales & Marketing Executive.

The company’s product range includes cement, slagment, aggregates and readymix concrete.

AfriSam is known for the high-quality cement it manufactures. This is from a number of its operations, including two fully integrated cement plants, one in Ulco in the Northern Cape, and the other near Lichtenberg in the North West province. “We also operate in Eswatini and Lesotho, where we have two cement blending and packing plants.

It is also a supplier of aggregates and readymix concrete. “The readymix and aggregate side of our business
(construction materials) focuses on large infrastructure projects – roads, dams and bridges. We supply aggregates
to many SANRAL projects, and concrete to sizable infrastructure projects,” says Tomes.

AfriSam provided the concrete for the tallest building in Africa, The Leonardo (the 55-floor mixed-use property
development in Sandton), as well as many of the Sandton CBD buildings with readymix concrete. On the residential
side, several large property developers receive concrete from AfriSam.

Most of the company’s bagged cement products are sold through the retail industry. Tomes says that the wide cement product range offered by all producers, importers and blenders and being sold through hardware retail
stores throughout the country, is proving a little confusing for consumers. “Because cement is such a technical
product, selling the right cement product for the right application can present challenges, especially in a country
like ours where we have unfortunately lost a lot skilled artisans in the built environment and are still confronted
will low levels of literacy across large sections of our population,” he explains.

“To make it easier for the consumer, we offer an all-purpose product, AfriSam All Purpose Cement, that is safe for use in concrete, mortar and plaster. For all the reasons mentioned above, expecting consumers to find the
appropriate product for laying bricks or casting concrete for foundations or other structural parts of a building can
be quite risky. Consumers can build the home of their dreams with confidence of using a dependable, reputable product. We understand the importance of quality when it comes to building materials. Nobody can afford to
continuously make repairs to their homes due to sub-quality products, so we focus on quality products that
meet the needs of all South Africans, from the smallest house to the biggest piece of infrastructure – we cover all
segments in our industry.

“For the private sector and commercial developments, we have a product called AfriSam High Strength Cement, a
technical specialist product for those who do their own concrete mix designs and are able to decide how much
cement they need per cubic metre of concrete for the right strength. That is our flagship product for the technical
specialist,” Tomes adds.

Approach to sustainability
Pivoting to AfriSam’s sustainability practice, Tomes says that low-carbon cement is a driving force for the
company. “We are focused on reducing our carbon footprint and have embarked on a number of initiatives such as renewable energy and making sure we use as much extender as possible to produce extended cement, without compromising on quality,” he says.

AfriSam is a market leader in this space, the first company to produce an eco-friendly cement with the lowest carbon footprint of all cementitious products in SA. “All our operations are green-orientated; we recycle water and reduce energy consumption. All our cement products are aligned to Government’s carbon tax regulations. Consumers of our products can make an informed decision about the best product to use with the lowest carbon footprint.”

Industry overview
Tomes comments that even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the SA big five construction companies, as
well as construction material businesses, were faced with difficulties. This is due to low economic growth in the
country, the reduction in infrastructure spend and local fixed capital formation.

AfriSam recently hosted webinars with renowned economists as guest speakers who forecast that the construction industry will decline by between 20% to 30% in 2020 compared to 2019, and that GDP will shrink by between 7% to 8%. The President has announced some stimulus packages to help boost the economy and the country has already seen the Reserve Bank reduce interest rates quite significantly in the past few months. The impact of these stimulus packages usually takes a while to materialise and show in the form of new projects.

“There will probably be a slight bounce back in 2021, but it won’t get back to pre-lockdown levels. However,
in the next 18 to 24 months we will see the construction industry gradually start to pick up again. South Africa has been through many growth cycles over the years and we have seen severe declines in economic growth and overall
confidence levels, the worst probably being in the run-up to the country’s first democratic elections in 1994. We do,
however, know that in the long term we cannot write off this industry.

“There is a massive need for infrastructure development in our country and on our continent, with the rapid rate
of urbanisation and the need for housing, schools and clinics. Some economists predict the level of urbanisation
in South Africa to be around 80% by 2050. We are going to have to ride through these difficult periods for now, but
the construction industry will thrive again in the future.

AfriSam’s response to Covid-19
“As part of the mining sector, AfriSam was fortunate to reopen its cement and aggregate operations under lockdown Level 4 to supply products to the essential services as highlighted by the Presidency.

“Unfortunately, during Level 4 the general construction industry was not able to operate, so the demand for our products was from retailers (mainly bagged cement products). Now in lockdown Level 3 our aggregate and readymix businesses are ready to supply, but unlike in the case of cement, demand for these products has dropped significantly and the uptick is much slower. “At AfriSam, the health and safety of our employees remains our number one priority. For this reason, we want to encourage as many people as possible to work from home, especially our head office people. All our operations have implemented strict screening protocols regarding symptoms, personnel movement and interaction data to ensure we have the right testing and tracing in place.

“I must commend our Covid-19 Task Team. We’ve already had successful inspections from the DMR (Department
of Mineral Resources) at our plants and the Department has been complimentary of our post-lockdown safety
measures,” Tomes says.

“Post-lockdown, the way forward for AfriSam is to ensure the business’s sustainability. Since 2017, the company
has been running on efficient capacity of two kilns in its cement plants. The readymix and aggregate businesses
have also been working tirelessly at preparing themselves to cope with the ongoing decline in infrastructure spend
for the last few years already.

“Even though we could not have predicted Covid-19, we had already adapted our business to make sure that production capacity reflects market demand and we will continue to do so. We were fortunate to have recently completed our balance sheet restructuring which has placed us on a better footing to weather the Covid-19 storm and its after-effects. The support that we received from our bankers, equity providers, suppliers and customers has played a significant role in helping to manage our liquidity position so far. The value of good relationships and stakeholder engagements cannot be underestimated, especially during difficult times like these.

“Businesses cannot be sustained if they do not have customers, so we have to ensure that we limit the spread of Covid-19 and the impact it is going to have on our economy. As President Ramaphosa said, we have to find the right balance between protecting lives and kickstarting the economy. AfriSam looks forward to the role it can play in rebuilding our beautiful country,” concludes Tomes.

Franki Shines At Landmark Longkloof Precinct Project

Franki Africa recently called on its experience to prevail over an array of challenges to deliver a two-level basement with depth of up to 10m at Growthpoint Properties’ famed Longkloof Precinct project in Cape Town, on time and within budget.

Specialist geotechnical contractor Franki Africa was recently contracted to deliver a two-level basement for the construction of the Canopy by Hilton Cape Town Longkloof hotel developed by Growthpoint Properties, South Africa’s largest real estate investment trust. The 150-guestroom building will be the Canopy by Hilton brand’s first property in Africa.

The Canopy by Hilton Cape Town Longkloof is expected to become a South African landmark, which will welcome guests from all over the country and the world. Located right close to Cape Town’s historical epicentre, the Gardens
Suburb, the project – which forms part of Growthpoint’s precinct redevelopment – gives new shineto the 112-year-old heritage site, Longkloof Studios.

Scope of project

Franki Africa’s scope of project, explains Contracts Engineer, Daryn Cloete, entailed the construction of a two-level basement with depth up to 10m, as well as relocating services – most notably a 250mm diameter sewer pipe and 1 050mm diameter stormwater pipe, among others.
“There was also a façade of a 100-year old heritage building close by that needed to be protected with a steel structure that was supported on piles,” says Cloete, adding that there were also items to be salvaged before demolition of the back half of the heritage building could take place.

In a nutshell, the project included rock breaking, façade protection, demolishing of the building, salvage of items,
the relocation of services and the construction of the lateral support works. The basement comprised 2 130 m² of lateral support, had 23 corners within it and was surrounded by some notable heritage buildings, which meant that it was not your typical rectangular or square-shaped basement.

Not without challenges

The project had its fair share of challenges. Firstly, Cloete explains that the services had to be relocated in close
proximity to a busy road, which made the execution of that particular task challenging. This was exacerbated by having to relocate and deal with live electrical cables in the process.

With the prime Longkloof redevelopment project located right in the middle of a historic urban quarter with existing
neighbourhoods, Cloete admits that managing noise and dust pollution from breaking rock was a major challenge.

Below the clayey silt sand – approximately 1,5m below ground level – was the Malmesbury bedrock, which turned
out to be slightly weathered to unweathered. A total of 24 000m³ of material was ultimately removed from the site.
Breaking the 70 MPa rock on site also made it difficult to stick to production targets. Despite the raft of challenges,
the five-month project – which commenced on 16 August 2019 – was completed on time and within budget.

A big factor contributing to the success of the project, says Cloete, was the way in which the Franki team “juggled” the constant challenges, while keeping their focus on the main task at hand, which was to create enough area for the subcontractor, Ross Demolition, to break and remove rock.

To prevail over these challenges,Cloete says: “We kept tackling the challenges as they arose and continued to push forward as a team. Due to great teamwork of the crew, led by Fikile Tshetsha, the contract was completed well
within the stipulated timeframe. A big ‘THANKS’ to DHK Architects, Atvantage Project Managers, MLC Quantity Surveyors and LH Consulting Engineers, whose input and expertise contributed hugely to the success of this project.”


Johannesburg will soon boast one of the most modern forensic pathology laboratories in the southern hemisphere, with work proceeding apace alongside the Helen Joseph public hospital near Auckland Park. Construction is being undertaken by black-owned contractor Maziya General Services, partnering with construction materials leader AfriSam for its supply of readymix concrete and bagged cement


Johannesburg will soon boast one of the most modern forensic pathology laboratories in the southern hemisphere, with work proceeding apace alongside the Helen Joseph public hospital near Auckland Park.

Construction is being undertaken by black-owned contractor Maziya General Services, partnering with construction materials leader AfriSam for its supply of readymix concrete and bagged cement. When completed in May 2020, the new Johannesburg Forensic Pathology Laboratory will become the main centre for these pathology services in the city. It is being built for the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development.

In addition to the laboratories themselves and the related office space, the building will also include educational facilities as training is an important element of the facility’s role. The building therefore includes a double-volume, state-of-the-art auditorium, according to Chris Delport, managing member of Maziya General Services. This will serve the universities in the area, and the nurses training colleges.

AfriSam is the supplier of choice for the supply of the projects bagged cement and readymix requirements

The building’s façade is a Grade 2 smooth concrete finish with no treatment, so care is taken to achieve a uniform colour throughout. To ensure a high quality finish, AfriSam constantly optimises the mixes supplied, says AfriSam territory manager Antonio Benjamin.

As the building is Green Star rated, the concrete being supplied contains slagment as an extender and this reduces the carbon footprint of the product. Standard mixes use 50% slagment, while enhanced mixes use 28%.

A total of over 15 000 m3 of readymix concrete will go into the project by the time it is complete, says Benjamin. Supplied from AfriSam’s Prolecon plant, readymix deliveries began in August 2017 and will continue until the finalisation of concrete work around May 2019. The readymix has been provided in three strength categories – about 260 m3 of 15 MPa for blinding, 10 500 m3 of 30 MPa for the in-situ casting of slabs and 1 300 m3 of 40 MPa for the columns and walls.

15 000 m³ of readymix concrete will go into the project by the time it is complete


Earthworks kicked off in October 2017 and continued for about three months, says Delport. Considerable levelling was required due to the slope on the site, with 15 to 20 metres of excavation required.

Following the earthworks stage, extensive piling, to accommodate the stepping on the sloping ground, was done for the four different levels. Over 200 piles – usually 450 mm or 600 mm in diameter – have been driven and poured to a depth of eight to 10 metres. He says that various ground conditions were dealt with, including quartz, hard-scale and sand. The piling was completed by early 2019, and pile caps were then poured on which columns could be constructed.

The building includes a basement at minus 2 level, where there will be parking and service rooms for generators, water plants and heaters. Above the basement, three floors are being constructed, completed with a roof slab. After completion of the concrete work, there will be some limited brickwork with partitioning and aluminium window frames and glazing. Maziya General Services will manage subcontractors and take the building through to full finish, where it can be handed over as a fully functional laboratory.

Between 50-70 young workers from the local area have been employed and upskilled over the project’s two-year construction period

The project is an Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP), one of government’s key initiatives for providing poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed. The programme provides an important avenue for labour absorption and income transfers to poor households.

We employ between 50 and 70 young workers from the local areas and upskill them over the project’s two year construction period,” says Delport. “This is an important strategy for us to be able to ‘give back’ to the community in the way we conduct business.”

With management, administration and subcontractors on site, there are about 150 people working on the project at any one time, he says. Maziya General Services deploys a range of its own large and small plant on the project, including a tower crane, two mobile cranes, a water bowser, tractor-loader-backhoes (TLBs), excavators, bobcats and compactors.

As the building is Green Star rated, the concrete being supplied contains slagment as extender and this reduces the carbon footprint of the product

Established in 1999, Maziya General Services has expanded its offerings into the broader infrastructural development value chain. With capacity and resources to deliver a range of projects, it holds a Grade 9 rating from the South African Construction Industry (CIDB).

Our multi-disciplinary skills base means that we can offer a single-point responsibility to our clients,” says Delport. “We are known for delivering solutions to clients on time and within budget in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.”

Tri-Star works with AfriSam on top-drawer Infinité apartments

As the readymix concrete supplier of choice, AfriSam will supply approximately 17 500 m3 of readymix concrete for the construction of various structures of the Infinité Apartments

Tri-Star works with AfriSam on top-drawer Infinité apartments

A glittering new residential development featuring fluid spaces, transparency and the spectacular use of glass is under construction in the suburb of Bedfordview, east of Johannesburg, with Tri-Star Construction as lead contractor and AfriSam supplying the readymix concrete.

Developed by Fatasy Property, Infinité is a luxury ten storey block of 198 high specification apartments, most ranging in size from 40 m2 studios to 79 m2 two bedroom units. Eighteen of the units will be the exclusive penthouses, complete with double volume areas to further enhance the sense of spaciousness and elegance.

In one of the largest pours that the contract will require, AfriSam delivered and poured 590 m3 for a basement slab during September 2017

Infinité will be the first high rise residential offering in the Bedfordview area, boasting both north facing and south facing apartments. The generous facilities will include two levels of underground parking, meeting rooms, a gym, an outside pool and a club house.

Glass balustrades all around the building and on every floor add to the modern design which, according to the architect Adrian Maserow of AMA Architects, “embodies the ambition of contemporary architecture”. The style is further enhanced by light colours with muted hues of charcoal, stone, brushed steel, oak and iceberg white.


Numbers of workers on site will peak at about 460, including sub-contractors and their staff

With earthworks kicking off early in 2017, Tri-Star Construction was on site to start piling work in May 2017 and full construction activities began in July the same year. The company will take the building right through all the construction phases to final finishes.

We are building in three sections – west, centre and east,” Tri-Star Construction contracts manager Daniel van Jaarsveld, says. “While these are being done almost concurrently, we will advance with the core section – where the lifts are situated – slightly ahead of the east and west sections, which will then follow together.”

The partnership with AfriSam on this project began with the supply of readymix for the over 110 pile caps – each taking between six and nine cubic metres of concrete – and the foundations for the building. AfriSam will supply some 17 500 m3 over the course of the project, according to AfriSam sales consultant Liza Rossouw, supplied from the company’s Prolecon and Spartan plants.

The size of the project also requires substantial quantities of reinforcing steel. Over the duration of the construction period, about 2 700 tonnes of reinforcing bar will find its way into the concrete elements of the structure

Construction of pile caps, columns and basement floors is followed by the transfer slab on the first floor. The concrete specified for the 1,5 metre by 2 metre beams is 50 MPa, while the columns demand 40 MPa strength. In one of the largest pours that the contract will require, AfriSam delivered and poured 590 m3 for a basement slab during September 2017.

The size of the project also requires substantial quantities of reinforcing steel. Over the duration of the construction period, about 2 700 tonnes of reinforcing bar will find its way into the concrete elements of the structure.

Where special concrete mixes are required – such as for the swimming pool deck – AfriSam will create the required mix at the plant and deliver to site. In the case of the pool, the roof and some areas on the first floor where garden areas are planned, a chemical admixture will provide the concrete with improved waterproofing qualities by reducing its porosity.

Concrete quality is, of course, high on our agenda and we test every pour ourselves, as well as make use of the services of a well-respected and independent service provider,” says Van Jaarsveld.

Infinité will be the first high rise residential offering in the Bedfordview area, boasting both north facing and south facing apartments

AfriSam conducts tests for our own purposes,” says Rossouw. “This is a crucial element of the quality control for which we are well-known in the readymix concrete sector, helping customers to safeguard their own standards and effectively manage their risk.”

The main structure will be completed by June 2018, while brickwork will continue until October; about 4,3 million bricks will be laid in the building of Infinité, along with the consumption of 38 000 bags of cement which will be batched on site mainly for bricklaying and plastering purposes. The maximum height of the building is scheduled to be reached in September 2018.

With our focus on the quality of our work and the safety of everyone on site, we place high importance on working with sub-contractors with experience, in whose ability we have the highest confidence,” says Van Jaarsveld. “High quality finishes are non-negotiable in a contract of this nature, as the client and end-consumer will be expecting flawless results in every aspect of their living area.”

The quality finishes include Bosch and Hansgrohe appliances and fittings. Large windows open each living space to expansive surrounding views.

The sub-contractors will be responsible for applying 63 000 m2 of plaster on the walls of the building, all to the high standards expected by the contractor – as well as 180 000 m2 of paint. Numbers of workers on site will peak at about 460, including sub-contractors and their staff.

Among the challenges when building this scale of project in a residential suburb, he says, is the potential disturbance caused by construction noise.

It is therefore vital for us to engage continuously with residents of the area, so that we can do all we can to accommodate them, while maintaining our construction schedule,” he says. “There are particular demands of the building process, however, that can make this difficult. When pouring large slabs, for example, we still need to power float the concrete for some time to achieve the desired finish and this may extend well over normal working hours.”

The main structure will be completed by June 2018, while brickwork will continue until October 2018. The maximum height of the building is scheduled to be reached in September 2018.

What is important, he notes, is to communicate with residents well in advance, and to keep the noise levels as low as possible and within working hours as far as can be arranged.

We work to provide a highly professional and hands-on service to our clients and stakeholders, whether the project is large, small, simple or complex,” says Van Jaarsveld. “We therefore rely on the consistently stringent standard of readymix concrete delivery from AfriSam, as they complement our own commitment to quality, safety and best practice.”

AfriSam may be contacted on: 0800 141 141

Farquharson Construction – 20 years of quality construction

Farquharson Construction – 20 years of quality construction

Since its establishment two decades ago Farquharson Construction (Pty) Ltd has developed a reputation as a high quality construction company.
The company was founded in 1997 by James Coutts, a civil engineer by profession. From the outset it focused on executing each project, irrespective of size, with the same meticulous attention to detail. High quality workmanship is assured through the careful selection of skilled artisans and specialised and experienced contractors who share Farquharson Construction’s commitment to quality.

Over the years the company offering has been extended to include turnkey projects and project management with the result that Farquharson Construction has extensive experience in the commercial, industrial, retail, residential and civil sectors.

As long standing members of the Master Builders Association North (MBA North) and the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC), Farquharson Construction conforms to a strong code of ethics and ensures a professional approach in its dealings with both clients and suppliers.

This ethical and professional culture has stood the company in good stead with the result that many of its staff and contractors have worked with the company for several years and have, in fact, managed to grow their own businesses on the back of Farquharson Construction’s success.

In any labour intensive organisation staffing can become a challenge. Currently employing a team of 60 people, including a management team of 22, a family oriented culture coupled with a commitment to staff and supplier development has ensured that both employees and contractors alike are loyal to the company with the result that longevity has become a cornerstone of the company culture. Staff turnover is remarkably low which has allowed the company to retain much of its expertise.

Farquharson Construction’s commitment towards delivering superior quality has allowed it to develop a good reputation in the industry and strong business relationships. “We’re not just building a structure for a client but what we hope is an enduring relationship,” explains Coutts.

Gareth Letcher joined Farquharson Construction 18 years ago after completing his BSc in Building Construction Technology and is today a director of the company. He says he has learned to expect the unexpected during the course of his career and to manage problems as they arise.

“I was thrown into the deep end soon after joining and quickly discovered how little I had actually learned at university,” recalls Letcher. “It was a steep learning curve but before long I was running my own projects and within a few years I was managing three or four projects consecutively.”

Many of the company’s subcontractors have worked with Farquharson Construction for over a decade, in the process growing their own businesses exponentially. The company is committed to developing people and makes a significant investment in training and development both for its permanent employees and sub-contractors. This strategy has allowed even sub-contractors to grow their businesses. “One of our contractors – who started out as a one man business – now employs over 300 people,” reports Letcher.

Project manager, Chris Hoile, has been with the company for the past 11 years and has seen it grow from managing small projects to large office blocks, car show rooms and shopping centres. “I’ve been in the construction industry for most of my working life. To be successful in this industry you need to have a passion for construction. If you have that passion it’s a very rewarding industry.”

Given South Africa’s scarcity of skills, Farquharson Construction employs university graduates and provides mentorship and training. “There’s a real lack of skills at all levels,” reports Hoile. “At a tertiary level we’ve found that most graduates don’t have the required skills and so we took the decision to upskill them – at the very least they need to know how to build a wall correctly if they ever hope to project manage an entire job. Artisan standards too are dropping as older and more experienced artisans such as carpenters retire. We are therefore committed to upskilling our labour pool in order to meet our stringent quality criteria.”

The team agree that what makes Farquharson unique is its consistent focus on quality and a vastly superior customer service ethic. “We treat our clients in the same way we would like to be treated,” points out Letcher. “We consider customer service paramount. Although we have grown significantly larger than a small family business, we have retained that same culture. It’s a culture which allows for continuous, direct and open communication between Farquharson Projects directors and our clients.” The fact that close to 70% of the company’s business is recurring is proof that this strategy has worked.

A founding member of the Green Building Councilof South Africa (GBCSA), Farquharson Construction is excited about the opportunities becoming available as a result of renewable technologies. “We are staying abreast of new technologies such as 3D printing as there is no doubt that they will have a significant impact on the way construction occurs in the future,” says Coutts.

Farquharson Construction was involved with one of Johannesburg’s first 6-Star Green rated buildings, Upper Grayston in Sandton. “Green building has yet to take off in any significant way in South Africa,” reports Letcher, “but it’s likely to be the next wave.”

One of the projects the company is most proud of is the Victory Park Virgin Active gym in Gauteng. Faced with challenging time constraints – the project had to be completed in just nine months – as well as ground water issues, it was a tough job by any standards. The company’s dedication to ensuring the completion of a high quality project was rewarded when Virgin Active representatives from the UK voted the gym the closest to perfection they had ever achieved.

However, that’s far from the only project the team is proud of: Corner Main Office Park in Bryanston, Johannesburg is a project that ran like clockwork and looks fantastic, agree the team. “Each project is a learning experience and helps us to better manage the next project,” says Hoile.

Key to the success of any construction and property development company in today’s constrained economic environment is careful management of cash flow. “Our back office team are the real unsung heroes of the company,” confirms Letcher. “We manage our cash flow carefully and we’re fortunate to have a great buyer who negotiates to get the best prices possible.”

The team attributes Farquharson’s attention to detail and focus on quality to the company’s founder James Coutts. “His philosophy of striving for perfection on every job has been passed down to every member of the team,” reports Allan Janse van Rensburg, a quantity surveyor who joined Farquharson nearly two years ago.

Despite significant challenges facing the construction industry, including a lack of investment and a declining skills pool, Farquharson Construction is committed to ensuring it continues to grow and continues to provide the same high level of service. “In an industry in which charlatans continue to give the industry a bad name, we will always strive to provide high quality workmanship and a meticulous attention to detail,” concludes Coutts.

For further information contact Kim Williams at Farquharson on +27 (0)11 467 4090

Plain sailing with Franki …

Plain sailing with Franki …

The Yacht Club: a testament to Franki’s Foreshore experience

Due to the past successful working partnerships between Franki and AMDEC, Franki was the preferred contractor for this challenging geotechnical work

AMDEC Property Development’s (AMDEC) The Yacht Club development is a picturesque, nautically inspired design, located on the Cape Town Foreshore in the Roggebaai Canal Tourism Precinct near to the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and directly south of the new multi million Rand cruise liner terminal.

The Yacht Club, a multi-use development including commercial and residential space, is destined to become one of Cape Town’s most sought after destinations and is yet another prestigious AMDEC/Franki Africa partnership.

The site is situated on the Malmesbury group deposition of the Cape Peninsula, Cape Supergroup in the Foreshore area of the harbour reclamation development of the 1920’s and 1940’s. The shale bedrock is overlain by very stiff residual material followed by marine deposits and fill comprising of old harbour facilities, general tipped rubble and dredged sands.

The ground water table was intersected at an average depth of 0.86 m with the bedrock falling from around -0.84 m in the west to -2.9 m in the east (elevation levels in ASML).

Special attention was required to an existing sub-surface canal running south to north which intersects the eastern portion of the site with both the lateral support and piled foundation design modified to accommodate and maintain the integrity of this structure.

Some of the existing live services which required special attention to maintain supply to neighbours

It is evident that from a geotechnical perspective the Cape Town Foreshore is not the easiest area in which to operate. The varying ground conditions with old rock-filled docks and piers and the high water table described above present a significant challenge,” says Franki’s Rod Schultz. “But our previous experience on the neighbouring Harbour Bridge and Canal Quays projects has given us a thorough understanding of the prevailing ground conditions in the area and enabled us to quickly offer our client the most cost-effective solution,” he says.

Schultz continued saying that it took some years of on-and-off development proposals by all concerned before AMDEC succeeded in producing a workable solution by securing the land and obtaining the necessary partnerships to go ahead.

Site overview showing the phased construction sequence and restricted access.

Due to the past successful working partnerships between Franki and AMDEC, Franki was the preferred contractor for this challenging geotechnical work. “We know Franki’s exceptional capabilities in the Foreshore area, which requires a special understanding of its complex geological conditions. We had no hesitation in awarding Franki this contract and their performance certainly lived up to expectations,” says AMDEC’s Project Manager Arnon van As.

Franki’s scope of works included the design and installation of the lateral support and foundation piling to this multi-storeyed, double-basement project, the excavation and disposal of some 65 000 mᶟ of bulk earthworks, 508 lm of lateral support and 271 no. foundation piles.

The soldier piles for the lateral support were a combination of 400 mmØ Continuous Flight Auger (CFA) piles and 325 mmØ Rotapiles tied back with a single row of anchors and gunite arches. The anchors had to be carefully positioned and inclined sufficiently to not intersect with the canal, which runs very close to the site.

Piling and bulk earthworks operations at peak with upwards of 5 piling rigs, 2 excavators and more than 200 tipper truck loads per day

CFA piling is a fast and economical system with no vibration and limited noise levels associated with it. “This was particularly advantageous on a site which is close to live canals and railway lines, contains a labyrinth of existing services and has neighbours who are particularly sensitive to noise,” says Schultz.

The main feature of the Rotapile system is its ability to penetrate boulders and rock formations. Socketing into hard rock is effected rapidly using the ‘Down The Hole Hammer’ (DTH) percussion drilling technique. As with CFA, noise levels are low and vibration limited.

Schultz says that the foundation piles were designed with flexibility in mind to meet the varying and sometimes unpredictable ground conditions. Three pile types were used: the Franki Driven Cast-in-Situ piles, Temporary Cased Augers and Oscillator piles with individual load bearing capacities from 2 300 kN to 10 000 kN.

To say that the Franki Pile is the most well known piling system in southern Africa is certainly no exaggeration. Developed circa 70 years ago it is still one of the most popular pile types in this region. Its main feature is the large base formed at the toe of the pile and, in forming it, the end-bearing area is considerably increased. It is generally a very economical system, has an extensive range of pile sizes and, like the other piling systems used on The Yacht Club site, its noise levels are relatively low.

Another significant challenge on this project was the very demanding schedule. “This meant that the works not only had to be very carefully planned but also executed to perfection,” says Schultz.

He explains that AMDEC required a phased handover to the main building contractor so that the critical-path tower cores and basement sections could be started whilst Franki were still busy on site. “We started operations during the latter half of 2016 and completed everything on time and within budget by mid-March 2017,” he says.

Schultz paid tribute to Franki’s client, AMDEC, and to bulk earthworks contractor, Ross Demolition. “To have successfully completed this project on time we needed it to run like clockwork. This was facilitated by these two professional companies which pulled out all the stops to ensure that we could do it,” Schultz concluded.