Collaboration is key to unlocking procurement value to drive infrastructure development | Infrastructure news

The second day of Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) Annual Infrastructure Indaba, held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, kicked off with a detailed discussion around procurement processes in South Africa’s public sector.

David Leukes, vice-president of CESA, welcomed delegates to the second day of the Indaba, and Amanda Masondo-Mkhize, a technician at MPAMOT, facilitated the ‘The procurement and performance management practices for public infrastructure in South Africa,’ session.

The keynote address was delivered by Thami Zikode CA (SA), Head of Portfolio, Regularity Audit: Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA). He called on consulting engineers to assist in ensuring that projects are properly planned and there is adherence to the budgets, timelines and efficient processes. “You have a responsibility in delivering services economically, efficiently and effectively given the state of our country’s economy,” said Zikode.

In terms of the country’s procurement, he believed the systems and processes were in place.

“The issue of accountability and consequence management are key to unlocking procurement in this country. The difficulty is that once you get to the point where you have implemented consequence management, it means something wrong has happened. So, I think the issue of making sure that we professionalize the public sector, especially the procurement selection, will go a long way in making sure that things get done the right way, right from the beginning.”

Alain Jacquet, Director of SABEeX, concurred: “We have the systems, but they are not being used effectively. And this needs to change. We must focus our energy on the content of the procurement processes rather than running the procurement processes.”

Thami Zikode from the Auditor General’s Office at the CESA Infrastructure Indaba 2023
George Kanyika, from the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Provincial Treasury, added: “There is a willingness to do the right thing. And people know that there are rules that need to be followed. But we call on everyone to be transparent and practice fairness and equity- if we can achieve this, there will be a real willingness to implement these processes.”

Leadership and Technology Driving Advancement

This session was facilitated by Rudi von Fintel, the chairperson of CESA’s KZN Branch and Associate Director of Smart Mobility at Royal HaskoningDHV.

The session was opened by Renee Petersen, CESA’s Young Professional Forum chairperson and HHO Consulting Engineers’ Civil Engineering Technologist, who called for young professionals to have a “seat at the table” to ensure transformation of the engineering fraternity with young professionals not just making a difference at junior levels but moving into senior levels.

“Young professionals bring a new perspective to shaping the built environment in collaboration and with guidance from seasoned professionals.”

Sibusiso Mjwara, PrTechEng and GEDP, President of the Institute of Municipal Engineering of Southern Africa (IMESA), advocated that together with other engineering professional bodies, everyone has a responsibility for designing and constructing the infrastructure for the future generations in all aspects of municipal engineering.

Meanwhile, Sikhulile Nhassengo, a CESA Transformation Committee member, and Director at Maninga Engineering, explained that the construction industry in Africa is slow in its adoption of BIM processes despite its numerous advantages. “Is the construction industry read for BIM? Is government ready for BIM? We must start using augmented technology today if we want to change the way in which we build the future of South Africa and Africa.”

Transnet CEO Portia Derby at the CESA Infrastructure Indaba 2023
He was joined in this session by Richard Ahlschlager, Technical Director – Energy, Resources and Manufacturing at ZUTARI who spoke about innovation, and William Moraka, a Manager at the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).

The event concluded with a session on the ‘Development of Transport Resources.’

The session’s facilitator was Naomi Naidoo, a CESA Board and a Director at Pink Africa Consulting Engineers and included speakers Dumisani Nkabinde, Regional Manager at SANRAL, and Portia Derby, Group Chief Executive at Transnet.

Derby highlighted the State-owned utility’s growth and re-invention strategy.

“It has been interesting getting relevant stakeholders, including our unions and staff, to understand that our partnership strategy is actually a growth strategy. It is not as if we are exiting the areas in which we are operating in. We have to take the money that we have and invest it in maintenance and build the rolling stock and infrastructure needed to ensure that we can continue with the business that we have; but to also increasingly look at how we can use our partners to undertake build programmes and expansion.”

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