M&D Construction Group, a leading multidisciplinary construction company, continues to build on an impressive track record of successfully completing technically complex infrastructure projects for South African municipalities and other client bodies operating at local government level.
Handed over to the Kgetleng Local Municipality, with all tie-ins completed within the contractual schedule in 2019, the Koster Wastewater Treatment Works (WWTW) stands out as yet another sound example of the contractor’s focus on its core values of ‘being safe’, ‘doing it right’, ‘finding the best way’ and ‘doing what we say’. These are closely aligned to those of Magalies Water, for whom the project was undertaken, as well as other clients tasked with delivering essential municipal services to their constituents.
The scope of construction work for the 6 Mℓ WWTW included an inlet, combined settlement and reactor structure, clarifier, chlorine contact tank, and concrete-lined balancing dam. This is in addition to interconnecting pipework. The latter comprised unplasticised polyvinyl chloride pipes with a maximum diameter of 500 mm and a 9.5 km long sewer outfall pipeline between various connection points in Kgetleng township and the new sewage treatment plant.
As part of the contract, M&D also constructed a blower house, administration building and recirculating aquaculture system pump station, as well as an access road that consisted of conventional layerworks with an interlocking paving finish and kerbs on both sides.
While this R108 million contract was awarded to the company through an open tender process, M&D’s long professional relationship with Magalies Water and its previous stellar performance on other public sector projects in the province were also very strategic competitive advantages when tendering for the work.
“Certainly, our extensive experience in the water sector, especially in constructing WTWs and WWTWs, also contributed towards M&D being selected as Magalies Water’s preferred contractor for this project,” says Niekie Wagener, head: Infrastructure, M&D.
“Executed by M&D’s Infrastructure Division, with support from the company’s fittings factory, the strong team allocated to this contract was also involved in successfully completing the Vaalkop WTW and the Vryburg WWTW in recent years,” he continues.
M&D, a true multidisciplinary construction company, comprises the following divisions:
- Surface infrastructure for mining
- Water retaining structures
- WTWs and WWTWs
- Roads and earthworks
- Specialised industrial and marine infrastructure Pipelines
- Water, sewer and stormwater
- Gas and petrochemical
- Plant pipework
Oil and Energy
- Constructing and upgrading fuel depots
- Petrochemical infrastructure
- Building specialised tanks
- Solar, wind and liquid natural gas projects
- Forming strategic partnerships with specialists to offer clients significant value. Examples include independent water producer off-balance-sheet infrastructure on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis and new technology-based solutions to solve critical issues in the water sector
- Design and build offerings for the construction of education, healthcare and social housing developments
- Public-private partnerships
- Structural steel and platework
- Electrical and instrumentation
Notably, the company’s fittings factory in Kya Sands was one of the first contractor workshops to be certified to ISO 3834 quality standards by the South African Institute of Welding, the International Standards Organisation’s authorised national body for company certification.
Ingredients for success
The Koster WWTW serves as a prime example of the way M&D plans and executes projects to ensure the highest possible standards of workmanship. Importantly, the company wanted to make ample use of the opportunity that this project provided to expose its many young engineers to a broad spectrum of civil engineering operations.
One of M&D’s strengths is that it has a strong balance between young and seasoned staff. Young construction professionals have an opportunity to be groomed into a successful career in construction by their more experienced counterparts to introduce fresh thinking and ensure business continuity.
Among the young M&D team members who benefited immensely from the extensive training undertaken on this project was Nomsa Tshiitamune, a previously disadvantaged woman engineer promoted to the position of site manager. This supports the company’s ongoing drive to ensure transformation in the South African construction sector as a Level 1 BBBEE contractor, with greater than 51% black and significant black woman ownership levels.
The project also proved to be a very suitable training ground for the many locals who were employed, as well as the more than 15 subcontractors appointed by M&D to complete parts of the work scope. This included the various buildings – the largest component of the project outsourced to emerging contractors – as well as the earthworks, layerworks, concrete paving and kerbs for the access road, which was designed right from the outset to ensure maximum participation by SMMEs.
Nurturing SMME development
Notably, M&D recently stepped up their focus on developing SMMEs in the construction sector, with its Khula Nathi platform set to be launched to assist and develop struggling smaller companies to still participate in the economy and create jobs after the Covid-19 crisis. In so doing, the contractor continues its long legacy, serving as a ‘bigger brother’ to smaller companies in the construction sector, particularly within the communities where it operates.
This culture enshrined in the company’s motto of Khula Nathi (‘grow with us’) continues to make a significant contribution towards the successful completion of the company’s projects. For example, there was not a single work stoppage on the Koster WWTW project site due to the excellent rapport that was established with community members right from the outset.
This approach was complemented by excellent team dynamics between the contractor, engineer, employer and the local council as the first point of contact with community members.
Importantly, due consideration also had to be given to the significant pace of construction activities at Koster. This extensive undertaking, involving 20 ha of site clearance and 45 000 m³ of earthworks, in addition to the placement of 2 460 m³ of structural concrete and the construction of 6 760 m2 of block paved roads, had to be completed within 18 months.
The team had to be able to apply innovative thinking to solve an array of challenges, including the extremely rocky terrain over which the full length of the pipeline travelled. All of this had to be done while ensuring the required gradient of the sewer pipeline was maintained.
MDOS ensures alignment
The ability to establish direction, execute plans and deliver results on all of M&D’s projects is also facilitated by the Murray & Dickson Operating System (MDOS). MDOS is based on a tried-and-tested entrepreneurial operating system that promotes accountability throughout the group to ensure that all employees are aligned to core values and pulling in the same direction. It also facilitates a system whereby issues that arise are identified, discussed and solved by identifying the root cause of the issue quickly.
The sensitive location of the Koster WWTW construction site was also another major challenge. Working in a township area, detailed control systems had to be implemented to ensure the safety of community members, especially with regard to the deep open trenches.
“The exceptionally high safety track record that we maintained throughout the project stands out as one of many highlights for the entire professional team. Notably, there was not a single lost-time injury on this contract – testament to the efficacy of our strict health and safety protocols,” says Juan Venter, construction manager, M&D.
Rukesh Raghubir, CEO, M&D, says that this project has again demonstrated why the company continues to grow its share of projects driven by local government.
“Similar to its counterparts in other municipal jurisdictions of the country, Magalies Water is driven by high service levels and on-time project delivery. At the same time, these clients encourage active participation by the local community on all their capital expenditure programmes, as direct labour and through subcontracting portions of the work scope to competent SMMEs. As such, training is an important part of their social investment. By leveraging our own training drive, their investment into infrastructure has benefited many communities in poor areas of the country during the construction phases,” he explains.
“We are certainly very proud of our long legacy of helping local government bodies deliver essential services to South Africans,” Raghubir concludes.