Established in 1999, Naidu Consulting’s growth has been founded on innovation and excellence, with success driven by a core investment in talent and mentorship. Along the way, this winning formula has been acknowledged by various industry associations, the most recent being the 2020 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards. 

Meeting the objectives of South Africa’s National Development Plan 2030 is a longer-term priority for all industry sectors and an imperative for micro- and macroeconomic growth. The more immediate one, however, is the execution of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan as a strategic response to the socio-economic fallout caused by the
Covid-19 pandemic.

Major infrastructure investments are a core part of the response and the construction sector is standing by to deliver. Implementation is the key, which makes selecting the most practical and efficient design and construction methodologies essential.  

“Rather than dwelling on the problems that constrain infrastructure delivery, we focus on creating value-engineered solutions that work. The emphasis is on getting the job done, on time and on budget, and bringing the community on board at all stages,” says Devan Govender, Pr Eng, Technical Executive: Economic Development.

“For this reason, we’re especially proud of our 2020 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards since they affirm the success of our operating philosophy. We know we faced tough competition so, in accepting these awards, we’d like to acknowledge and thank all CESA firms for their invaluable role in collectively rebuilding and recapacitating South African infrastructure. It’s a winning team approach,” Govender continues.

Delivering for the community

Tackling South Africa’s triple challenge of inequality, poverty and unemployment presents major opportunities for creative engineering. This includes the more widespread adoption of alternative techniques like labour-intensive construction (LIC).

The latter is a core specialisation for Naidu Consulting, which was instrumental in implementing LIC for the first time on several Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) projects for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport (DoT). LIC positively changed the DoT’s understanding and acceptance of this approach for SAQA
training and SMME development within disadvantaged communities.

“We constantly research the best-fit technologies. Historically, for example, we designed the first green roads rehabilitated highway in Africa through several innovative recycling techniques, including the adoption of recycled asphalt,” says Govender.

A ‘glow in the dark’ bridge

The eZimbokodweni Pipe and Pedestrian Bridge is a classic example of how Naidu Consulting’s out-of-the-box thinking adds value. The project won the category ‘Projects with a value less than R50 million’ at the 2020 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards.

Although delivering a new sanitation service was the main mandate from eThekwini Municipality, Naidu Consulting saw the opportunity to further enhance the community experience by incorporating photoluminescent ‘glow in the dark’ polymer concrete handrails and posts in its design proposal.

A first-time application in South Africa, the technology was envisaged by Naidu Consulting and developed by Resocrete Polymers. In addition, the footpaths leading to the bridge also incorporate the same material.

The final execution can best be described as an exceptional interpretation of social engineering. “Using photoluminescent polymer concrete as a lighting solution will eliminate conventional electricity costs, as well as vandalism and cable theft,” says Josh Padayachee, Pr Eng, Director: Bridges and Buildings. “It’s also a solution that is maintenance-free with a long-term cost saving to the client.”

Standing approximately 10 m above the existing riverbed, the 160 m long box girder deck accommodates a 1 000 mm diameter HDPE gravity sewer pipeline. The deck is prestressed and comprises six equal spans.

Mabhobhane River Bridge

In the same vein, Naidu Consulting’s Commendation Award at the 2020 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards for the Mabhobhane River Bridge is another prime example of community empowerment. The project was entered in the category ‘Projects with a value between R50 and R250 million’.

Naidu Consulting was also the first company in South Africa to win both the Community-Based Projects Award and Technical Excellence Award for this bridge at the SAICE Branch Awards in 2019.

Historically, members from the Bangindoda community, situated on the Eshowe side of the Tugela River, had to cross the river by boat to access basic services such as schools, clinics, and pension pay points. When the boat was out of operation or the river was impassable, community members had to travel approximately 28 km to the nearest town
of Eshowe.

The client’s brief was to develop an economical solution that would accommodate the environmentally sensitive area and accelerate the construction process. The final design entailed the construction of a 330 m long composite structural steel truss and reinforced concrete slab deck, with spans of up to 40 m. This is the longest composite bridge to be constructed over the Tugela. Selecting a composite, modular bridge deck solution meant that the 350 t of structural steel could be prefabricated off-site, concurrently with the construction of the substructure. Once placed, the steel trusses were used to temporarily support the construction of the concrete deck slab, completing the composite deck section. This facilitated the construction of the deck without the constraint of falsework and formwork supported from the riverbed, which is known for flash flooding.

The talent that drives innovation

Training and mentorship to professional registration are the foundations for engineering excellence. Without a sustained talent pool, firms cannot operate. And without a steady supply of technicians, technologists and engineers, the construction industry
cannot function.

At Naidu Consulting, mentorship is key, transferring skills at every level via a top-down and bottom-up approach. Transformation is central to this, providing a platform for men and women from previously disadvantaged backgrounds to imagine and achieve a career in engineering.

Receiving the Mentor of the Year Award at the 2020 CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards validated this commitment. The focal point was the recognition award bestowed on Naidu Consulting’s Perrie Cronje, Pr Eng, as Mentor of the Year.

“We’re one of the few consulting engineering companies in South Africa to establish an Empowerment Unit as well as a formal training programme that assists other professional firms to enhance job creation through virtual and augmented platforms. We also run LIC courses for industry because Naidu Consulting’s philosophy is to capacitate industry to make a real difference,” says Morag Horne, Pr HRP, HR Executive.

“Consulting engineers play a pivotal role in assisting government to ensure the best spend on infrastructure projects and to deliver on government’s corridor development strategies. Our commitment as consulting engineers is to unpack and mobilise delivery,”
Govender concludes.

2020 CESA AON ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE AWARDS

Category: Projects with a value less than R50 million Winner: eZimbokodweni Pipe and Pedestrian Bridge

Category:  Projects with a value between R50 and R250 million Commendation: Mabhobhane River Bridge

Category: Business Excellence Winner

Category: Mentoring Company of the Year Winner

Category: Mentor of the Year Recognition: Pierre Cronje (Pr Eng)

FUTURE LEADERS THAT SHAPE OUR WORLD

Nokwanda Khumalo, B Tech, Project Manager

Nokwanda is an aspirant young engineering technologist who leads from the front. After completing her practical training for a National Diploma in Civil Engineering with Naidu Consulting, Nokwanda was subsequently awarded a bursary to complete her BTech. She is currently registered for an MTech, with a key focus on LIC.

“At Naidu Consulting, the emphasis is on out-of-the-box thinking. The company is constantly looking for ways to evolve. That suits my personality perfectly. It’s an exciting experience working here and seeing the real difference our engineered responses make for communities.”

Hhlengiwe Cbekhulu, BTech, Youth Programme Leader

Hhlengiwe joined Naidu Consulting through the Academy of Excellence Programme and overcame major personal challenges to become an engineer, having grown up in a traditional, rural environment.

“I realised the challenges facing women, particularly the negative perception of our ability to perform in a historically male-led industry. I drew inspiration from women who have gone against the grain and gained success in the industry.”

Philani Mkhize, Pr Tech Eng, BIM Lead: Roads and Highways Business Unit

Philani joined Naidu Consulting as a designer. “BIM has revolutionised the way engineers can design, interrogate and refine buildings and structures using virtual and augmented reality. Working for Naidu Consulting exposes me to the latest smart technologies. It’s great to work for such a futuristic company.”

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