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A visionary leader in its field, Nyeleti Consulting celebrates its 20th birthday in 2019. IMIESA speaks to executive director Pine Pienaar about the company’s successes and future ambitions.

What sets Nyeleti apart from the competition?

PP  Nyeleti is a black-owned consulting engineering firm with expertise in most civil engineering fields, specifically structural, water and transportation engineering. Over the past 20 years, we’ve had the privilege to be involved in a number of flagship projects within South Africa, which have greatly refined our capabilities.

These include involvement in the design and construction of stadiums for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, Gautrain, balance-of-plant and auxiliary buildings for Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile power stations, and the design of elements of the well-known Msikaba and Mtentu N2 Wild Coast bridges.

We are grateful to clients and lead consultants who afforded us these opportunities.

We have also had the opportunity to design and supervise numerous projects within the urban and rural infrastructure sphere. These projects include road infrastructure development, the implementation of local public transport systems, and the development of water reticulation and sewerage systems.

World-class project execution is at the core of our business – and this all depends on people. Skills development, mentorship, the allocation of project responsibility, company ownership and management, succession planning, staff retention and wellness are all internal priorities. This investment in human resources has made us the success we are today.

Our slogan is ‘Engineered to excel’ and our name, Nyeleti, means ‘star’. This symbol reflects our commitment to excellence.

What does the future hold for the consulting profession?

The challenges currently being experienced within this sector are well known. Poor GDP growth, an increase in public sector debt, and increased social needs have resulted in a drastic decrease in the funding available for infrastructure development.

However, over the longer term, we know that infrastructure provision and operation are essential for the economic well-being of the country and the development of its people.

The consulting engineering profession has a huge role to play, so we’re optimistic about the future of  the profession.

How have past milestone projects shaped the company?

We consider milestone projects to be important for a number of reasons. These projects are generally technically challenging, which hones the abilities of our designers and, in some cases, construction supervisors.

Milestone projects also contribute to the company’s well-being, in that engineering staff generally like to be associated with these projects. In this way, these projects contribute towards staff motivation and retention.

Perhaps most important is the marketing value of these projects, assisting the company with being more visible within the industry and demonstrating its capabilities.

Which projects are you currently working on?

We are pleased and grateful to have a healthy order book in this tough economic climate. An exciting project we were recently appointed for, in joint venture with Bigen African and GIBB, is the design and supervision of the Mokolo Crocodile Water Augmentation Project, Phase 2, also referred to as MCWAP-2.

This project will significantly increase the supply of water to the Lephalale region in Limpopo.

The project is being implemented in support of one of the strategic integration projects (SIPs) forming part of government’s National Infrastructure Plan, namely SIP 1. SIP 1 aims to unlock the economic potential of the northern mineral belt located in the Waterberg area.

Another interesting project in the water field is the Hammanskraal bulk and distribution network in Tshwane, currently in the construction phase. The project includes a bulk supply steel pipeline, 800 mm in diameter and 5.2 km long, serving Hammanskraal Ext 1, Temba and adjacent townships.

The project also includes an outfall sewer, consisting of a 3.4 km long, 600 mm diameter concrete pipe. Water and sewer services are being provided to 2 770 stands, as well as toilet top structures. In the roads field, Nyeleti is responsible for the design and construction supervision of various national road projects for Sanral, including portions of the N2 and N3 in KwaZulu-Natal and the N8 ring road in Bloemfontein.

The upgrading of the Watt Interchange in Johannesburg for the JDA is a prominent project with interesting challenges, while our order book also includes a number of provincial-level road rehabilitation projects.

A first for Nyeleti is the appointment as independent engineer on the Bakwena N1-N4 Toll concession project. Here, we are working in joint venture with a newly established black-female-owned company, Merchelle’s Collective.

Traffic engineering and impact studies also form part of our bread-and-butter work. Although we do not currently have an active public transport project, we have been intimately involved in this field over the years.

We treasure this involvement, understanding the importance of public transport in addressing the mobility needs of our population.

The work of our Forensic Investigation Unit typically consists of shorter-duration investigations into the condition of concrete infrastructure such as chimneys and silos, and the determination of structural characteristics, such as the level of provision of rebar, slab thickness or concrete properties.

Does the future plan include BOOT projects?

South Africa and the SADC region are seeing collaboration between public and private entities in the delivery of infrastructure.

We are also seeing more country-to-country project funding initiatives in countries such as Mozambique and Zambia. Continental funding institutes are coming on board to assist in delivering energy, roads and water infrastructure.

Going forward, Nyeleti would like to become more involved in BOOT or PPP projects. Our focus is to familiarise ourselves with the typical requirements and align ourselves with strategic partners active in the field.

How is technology changing engineering?

We have a history of embracing technology and our vision is to continue to do so. New technologies becoming essential to the profession include the exponential growth in the computational strength of computers, digitisation, geolocation, tracking and spatial technology, building information modelling, 5D design (where time and cost parameters are integrated into the 3D design model), AI, virtual reality, real-time monitoring of variables, 3D printing, drone technology, and many others.

Is the cross-border market still attractive?

Working in the SADC region is very much part of our growth strategy. Nyeleti’s approach is to focus on two or three countries. Our primary focus is Mozambique, where we have a local presence and have been successful in winning work. Nyeleti is currently busy with a 50 km water supply pipeline to Pemba, a coastal city with 200 000 inhabitants.

The capital of Cabo Delgado Province, Pemba is experiencing high growth due to the development of offshore gas fields in the region.

How critical isSA’s infrastructure maintenance backlog?

In our view, the infrastructure maintenance backlog is a huge threat to efficient service delivery. As engineers, we are very aware of the effects of inadequate maintenance.

Be it roads or bridges, water networks or structures, inadequate maintenance leads to a loss of functionality, a reduction in lifespan, and poses safety risks to users and communities.

As a country, we still have a long way to go to realise and understand the importance of maintenance, the implications of neglecting maintenance, and what needs to be done to address it.

What’s the vision for the next 20 years?

Nyeleti’s vision for the next two decades is built around our people and our values. We will continue to attract and retain the best talent available, ensuring that succession planning is in place for our future leaders.

We have an excellent team of young engineers, both male and female.

Our strategy has always been to focus on larger-scale projects that put our skills to the test; however, no project has ever been too small for Nyeleti, and we will continue to take up each and every challenge that comes our way.

In order to survive into the future, we know that we need to be at the forefront of technological developments, while identifying new fields of expertise and services that we can offer our clients. Forensic engineering investigations are a prime example – a business that we believe will grow from strength to strength over the next decade.

We operate in a free market environment, so we need to offer the best service at a competitive price.

 

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