Mariswe’s stated aim is to engineer infrastructural solutions that build communities to improve people’s lives.

Anew kid on the block?” you may ask. Not at all: rather a new name for a company that has matured and changed, and is no longer recognisable as the same company formed 47 years ago.

On 1 February 2019, UWP Consulting changed its name to Mariswe. The company remains true to its core business of consulting civil and structural engineering, driven by a desire to improve lives by providing sustainable engineering infrastructure solutions.

With sustainability in mind, Mariswe is positioned to provide services throughout the life cycle of infrastructure – from planning, design and construction through to maintenance. “We are confident in our ability to successfully serve the total infrastructure life cycle, as we bring a great depth of knowledge, experience and client relationships to Mariswe,” says CEO Nonkululeko Sindane.

Companies change their names to announce that they are embarking on a journey of transformation. “For Mariswe, it was the other way around,” says Sindane. “We’ve changed continuously in the past 47 years, but most significantly in the
past decade.”

New owners

UWP acquired three majority black-owned companies: Khula Africa Engineers in 2009, CME Consulting Engineers in 2012, and Sektor Consulting Engineers in 2018. These acquisitions brought new technical expertise and projects to the company.

Most of the shares in the business have also changed hands. In 2016, UWP was 33% black-owned and 12% black-women-owned. A 25% stake of the black ownership was held by an external equity partner and 8% by black employees in management. The remaining 67% was owned by
white employees.

Today, Mariswe is 100% employee-owned and almost 56% black-owned. Black women effectively own 24% of the company. The equity partner’s 25% holding was bought by Abaqeshwa, a company wholly owned by black employees in the business, while 31% of the shares are held by black managers and professionals within Mariswe.

These ownership changes are mirrored by Mariswe’s board and management structures, with greater depth across service areas and regions. The company prides itself on the teamwork within and between its four self-sufficient regional operations, spread across eight offices in South Africa.

“Our presence across provinces means that we are particularly well placed to service national, provincial and, most importantly, municipal government, which continues to provide a steady flow of income for the company,” states Sindane.

BBBEE Level 1

She is delighted about Mariswe’s successful retention of its Level 1 BBBEE Contributor status in its first audit under the Amended Construction Sector Codes of Good Practice in November 2018. This achievement has a lot to do with Mariswe’s changing shareholding strategy, in which shareholders are becoming younger and more diverse in terms of race and gender, she explains.

Mariswe’s reputation as a company that upskills its employees through in-house mentoring and training is attracting motivated,
young employees. A new internal Leadership Development Programme was launched
in 2019.

Sindane is particularly proud of Mariswe’s supplier development programme. “We have structured contracts in place for our supplier development programme; the support we provide is real and we hope to progress these relationships into meaningful partnerships.”

The company’s national initiative for teenage girls in their final years of school – entitled Nurture a Girl – is now in its third year, giving learners social support including mentorship and counselling.

Roots in Africa

More than 35% of Mariswe’s revenue is currently generated outside South Africa and successful subsidiary companies have been formed in Botswana, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Projects have also been completed recently in the DRC, Lesotho, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Uganda. A new branch of the South African business has recently opened in Lesotho.

Name-change process

“The name change has taken two years and we put our employees at the centre of the journey by asking each office to literally paint a picture of why they worked at UWP,” says Sindane. “Common themes emerged, providing the basis for a new set of
company values.”

But history has also played a role in Mariswe’s future, she points out. “Over 47 years, we have built a solid foundation. We have grown into a respected company with the depth of expertise to deliver projects of scale in our core technical disciplines of transportation, water and sanitation, structures, management services, and infrastructure planning.”

Mariswe’s experience across these core capabilities is proven by a strong portfolio of challenging projects. The largest assignment undertaken by the company is located in Lusaka, Zambia.

Lusaka water supply and sanitation project

When the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US Federal Government-sponsored donor organisation, funded several large infrastructure construction packages in Lusaka, Mariswe was engaged to supervise six of the construction packages:

  • upgrading of Lusaka’s bulk water supply infrastructure, including the distribution network
  • construction of potable water storage infrastructure and reticulation networks in high- and medium-density areas of Lusaka (two projects)
  • construction of waterborne sewage infrastructure in high-density areas
  • upgrading and expansion of the sewage treatment works at Kaunda Square
  • construction of 30 km of large, concrete-lined trapezoidal canals for stormwater management.

These are being undertaken by six different international contractors and the combined value of the construction works will exceed US$220 million (R3.1 billion) once completed in 2020.

Mariswe assembled a multinational, multi-disciplinary team of 70 people from the DRC, Ethiopia,  Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Water reuse PPP for City of uMhlathuze

Mariswe has been engaged by the City of uMhlathuze, incorporating the towns of Richards Bay and Empangeni, as lead consultant on the technical advisory team for the treatment and reuse of about 75 ML/day of domestic and industrial wastewater through a public-private partnership.

Ghana OPRC

To improve management of its road network, the Ghana Highway Authority appointed Mariswe to assess output and performance-based road contracts (OPRC) for the upgrading of 240 km of trunk routes and 800 km of feeder roads.

In performance-based contracting, the design and construction risks are transferred to the contracting entity, which is paid a lump sum to provide and maintain the road to specific standards.

Key aspects of Mariswe’s work are road network prioritisation, concept design and the preparation of draft bidding documents. The company has recently been appointed to undertake a similar study in Lesotho for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport in a World Bank-funded project.

Water storage facilities

Collaboration between Mariswe’s Structures and Water and Sanitation divisions has created an efficient one-stop shop for the design of urban reservoirs and water towers to meet growing requirements, resulting in appointments from both Johannesburg Water and the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality.

Following the design of a giant 5.5 ML water tower in Benoni in 2015, Mariswe has added another unique 1 ML water tower and three reservoirs to its portfolio in Gauteng.

These include the new 5 ML Benoni Central reservoir and 1 ML, 50 m high water tower; a new 25 ML reservoir in Kempton Park; and a new 22 ML reservoir in Woodmead, Johannesburg, which is still to be built.



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