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South Africa: Public Works to boost technical skills base


7th Space

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System
Date: 21 May 2012
Title: Public Works to boost technical skills base
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Pretoria – The Department of Public Works is set to invest more funds in developing in-house technical capacity, which in the long run will help it to save money that is currently paid to consultants.

This emerged after Minister Thulasi Nxesi met with Public Works MECs in Johannesburg over the weekend to develop strategies to enhance service delivery.

Among the issues discussed was the need to address the lack of professional and technical skills, given the fact that Public Works is a highly technical department.

This, according to the department, means recruiting from the private sector, as well as inserting clauses into construction contracts to require contractors to train young engineers and artisans. The department will determine the minimum basket of skills required nationally and provincially.

The discussions also centred on developing and capacitating emerging black construction contractors, whilst strengthening sanctions – including blacklisting – against non-performing contractors to enhance service delivery.

Also taking part in the meeting was the Construction Industry Development Board (CIBD) – a public entity which reports to the Minister of Public Works. CIBD is concurrently reviewing the regulatory framework to ensure it enhances, rather than inhibits, contractor development.

The meeting also explored the use of alternative construction methods (ACMs) to tackle the issue of mud schools. Pilot schemes have been completed in the Eastern Cape and North West provinces.

These methods produce buildings that in most instances are better than conventional buildings, in that they are more sustainable, cheaper and quicker to erect.

Nxesi also explained the implications of the recently announced national infrastructure roll out plans.

“The effective roll out of the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) … the revitalisation of health facilities and the national school building programme, require that Public Works, nationally and provincially, together with client departments, local authorities and implementing bodies work closely together to ensure effective delivery.

“This means maximum coordination and changing the way we work to reduce delays and cut through the bureaucracy. The roll out of health and education infrastructure will also stimulate further economic activity in communities and job creation,” said Nxesi.

Professor Shadrack Gutto, constitutional law expert and public policy commentator, was invited to present a legal opinion and research findings on the application of cooperative governance and concurrent mandates, concepts which are central to improving coordination between the spheres of government.

He concluded that whilst minor legislative or regulatory changes might be necessary, much could be done administratively to strengthen coordination between the spheres, including developing a memorandum of understanding to clarify roles and responsibilities.

A resolution was taken to, among other things, request Professor Gutto to undertake further research, whilst joint structures are established to identify the areas that need to be covered in a memorandum of understanding and to encourage greater cooperation and interaction between provinces to share experiences and best practices.

As examples, the MEC of the Eastern Cape – where ACMs have been used to replace mud schools – invited other provinces to visit these schools, whilst the Western and Northern Cape provinces discussed cooperation to address skills deficits.

The national department will also coordinate with provincial departments to further enhance reliability of the Immovable Assets Register of state assets.

Reported by: South African Government News Service

Zimbabwe: Foreign firms dominate in construction


The Standard

By Ndamu Sandu

October 23, 2011

THE construction industry wants the State Procurement Board (SPB) to impose a 25% added value to all foreign construction companies’ bids to improve the competitiveness of locals as it emerged that Chinese and South African firms are getting most of the contracts.

The recommendation is part of measures the sector wants government to institute to grow the industry, which is on the increase since the use of multi-currencies in 2009.

According to a paper presented to government, the industry is of the view that locals are getting a raw deal as they are inadequately equipped to compete with foreign companies.

“This is as a consequence of hyperinflation experienced before the introduction of the multi-currency system when obsolete and depreciated capital equipment could not be replaced,” the industry said.

The sector said the prevailing high interest rates had made local bids uncompetitive compared to foreigners who have access to cheap finance, equipment and materials from their countries of origin.

There is no government incentives that exist for the construction industry to reduce the cost of importing capital equipment such as those offered to the agriculture and tourism sectors, the industry said. “On average, contractors are made to pay a US$250 non-refundable bid bond by SPB each time they go to tender, an exorbitant amount in the present economic environment,” the sector said.

The Procurement Regulations of 2002 granted a 10% preference to locally-based contractors over external ones.

It also said a 10% preference may be given to previously economically disadvantaged contractors…Read more.

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