SA Builder Report

My tenure as editor at SA Builder began with the resignation of industry stalwart and ex-editor John Thome in early 2020, and coincided with the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various level lockdowns, in which the construction industry ground to a halt, took a dive, and negatively affected the revenue of SA Builder.

Mention must be made of the cancellation of different industry conferences and events due to the rise of physical distancing, leading to meetings and discussions in the virtual realm on Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the global trend of working from home and the shaky movement to a post-pandemic world.

These webinars spotlighted viral containment measures on construction sites, as well as what to do with persons under investigation of suspected Covid-19 infection; cleaning and disinfecting of construction work spaces, and insights into the mechanism and biological implications of the novel viral pandemic. Working at height webinars offered valuable tips to industry role-players.

Additional challenges in the industry included ways in which companies could avoid business rescue and closure, the slow pace of public sector infrastructure investment pre and during the pandemic, the shortage of effective PPE equipment, inflation of PPE prices, “Covid-19 red tape”, the comprehension of regulations which changed on a sometime daily basis, and the hastened uptake of hygiene and social distancing measures in general and on work sites, with masks, gloves, disinfectant and temperature readings.

Positive actions included Government injection of cash into small and medium-sized businesses, and the re-evaluation of general value systems due to the pandemic.

President Ramaphosa’s anti-corruption drive is a beacon of hope but its effectiveness remains to be seen. Issues of sub-standard cement and steel remain in the construction industry but mitigative measures have been put in place.

The move of SA Builder from print to digital has been relatively smooth, with average download figures of 5 500 at the beginning of the year rising to 6 000+ in the latter months, newsletter readership remaining steady at 4 600 per month, and website views averaging 2 600 monthly.

Despite the downward economic curve, lockdown restrictions have been eased and the economy looks set for a staggered upward trajectory. Cautious optimism remains the industry buzzword. Although John Matthews’ tenure as President draws to a close, his regular monthly commentary has injected optimism and direction into what has often seemed like rough seas.

Our monthly focus on the different MBA SA regional branches has thrown light on the how the organisation is galvanised by the sum of its parts.

What follows is a month by month summary of SA Builder articles from October 2019 to August 2020.

October 2019

  • Rebuilding of trust between Government and private sector – Patricia de Lille at MBAWC
  • Collaborative training on mitigating injuries in the workplace
  • 144 Oxford project
  • Heritage rehabilitation of National Council of Provinces building in Cape Town
  • SAISC Steel Awards 2019

November 2019

  • Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal Annual Awards 2019
  • Lack of quantity surveyors In Government departments leading to Infrastructure budget misspending
  • Infrastructure investment by Corobrik
  • Insights into inner-city trends from TUHF’s conference
  • SA cement makers get tough with sub-standard supplies
  • Inclusionary elements of housing policies

December 2019

  • The importance of hiring a professional designer
  • Paragon Group emerges a winner at the Gauteng Institute for Architecture (GIfA) 2019 Awards
  • Psychological benefits of colour in office design

January 2020

  • Uptick in building activity in Q4, but constraints remain
  • MBA North seminar on fall arrest and temporary works
  • Ownership of unfixed materials in a building contract explained
  • ASPASA lobbies government to crack down on ill-conceived borrow pits

February 2020

  • SONA – President Ramaphosa emphasises shifting state expenditure from debt servicing to infrastructure
  • Arresting mafia gangs the first step to reviving construction Industry
  • ISO 20887 brings sustainability to buildings and civil engineering works
  • Q&A with Ntombifuthi Ntuli, South Africa Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) CEO

March 2020

  • 21-Day lockdown – what businesses need to know
  • MBA North AGM 2020: Weathering rough patches but overcoming them
  • Profile of Wayne Albertyn, President, MBA North
  • Corobrik: importance of right building materials so that funds can be allocated to new projects rather than maintenance
  • Clay brick contributes to SA’s socio-political and architectural legacy

April 2020

  • Call for the designation of construction sector as essential service
  • Aurecon assists Government with national Covid-19 response
  • Finance Minister Tito Mboweni paints a sobering picture of economy in Budget Speech
  • Concrete Institute’s School of Concrete Technology: concrete Industrial floors need special skills

May 2020

  • MBA President John Matthews: SA in holding pattern
  • Construction sector welcomes easing of lockdown under Level 3
  • Rope masterclass incorporating two separately secured rope systems
  • Q&A With Njombo Lekula, MD at PPC RSA

June 2020

  • Focus on Master Builders East Cape
  • Compliance with regulations and equipment specifications are vital for working at height
  • Covid-19 OHS compliance in the construction sector

July 2020

  • Focus on Master Builders KZN
  • Guidance on deep cleaning of workplaces
  • Unpacking the supplementary budget speech
  • AfriSam looks forward to the role it can play in rebuilding our beautiful country

August 2020

  • Focus on Master Builder Free State
  • Risk assessments for construction sites
  • Future-ready jointless flooring In South Africa
  • Focus on The Institute for Work at Height

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SA Builder’s annual mandate is to disseminate relevant information to the construction industry, with a view to bolstering the agency of the MBSA and its affiliate membership; MBA regional branches and membership, public service departments and industry associations.

SA Builder’s formidable digital presence at www.sabuilder.co.za contains current and archival issues, and its readership is further informed with industry news articles and monthly newsletters.

SA Builder, founded in 1923, is the official journal of Master Builders South Africa, and is published by Malnor (Pty) Limited on behalf of MBSA. The magazine is distributed to all members of the Master Builders Associations in South Africa as well as to the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), which includes architects, structural engineers, quantity surveyors, small, medium and large contractors, sub-contractors and builders’ merchants.

SA Builder maintains close relationships with industry bodies, institutes and associations, as well as with Government departments and organisations, such as the Department of Public Works, the Department of Labour, the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB), the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS), the SA Institute for Steel in Construction (SAISC), the SA Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), SA Institute for Civil Engineering (SAICE), and university construction education hubs such as University of Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU), among others.

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