Roy Cokayne

INEFFICIENCIES of human resource departments of public bodies was responsible for hampering service delivery, newly inaugurated president of the SA Institution of Civil Engineering Peter Kleynhans said last night, pointing out to flaws in the appointment of high calbre engineering staff.

In certain instances, the performance criteria of the technical departments and those of the human resources function did not align, resulting in delays in appointments, suitable candidates being rejected, inappropriate candidates being selected or no appointments being made, he said.

Kleynhans said the imperative of service delivery in public sector bodies related to management and skills.

“The Treasury is endeavouring to rectify the matter in respect of financial management through requirements that incumbents of positions should be appropriately qualified and experienced. The same needs to be done for engineering and other built environment professions,” he said.

Kleynhans stressed that civil engineering needed to assist public bodies to have positions filled by the best available skilled people.

“It is ironic that in a country that is short of skills there are many civil engineering practitioners, and indeed other professionals, who are unemployed, underemployed or utilised on much unproductive work to meet procurement requirements. This state of affairs must be corrected in the interests of the country,” he said.

Kleynhans added that due to the great need of communities, particularly those what were impoverished, the single most important imperative was to obtain value for money.

“Consequently, there is no place for corruption, nepotism and incompetence while we need to ensure that capital works are well planned, engineered, constructed and managed,” he said.

“Every rand spent unnecessarily on questionable immovable assets is a rand less for other imperative interventions.

The combination of institutional shortcomings and inappropriate application of skills, coupled with procurement and supply change management flaws, resulted in inadequately planned and executed projects and gave “rise to troublesome contracts and questionable immovable assets”, he said.

“The National Treasury, the Construction Industry Development Board and the Development Bank of Southern Africa are doing sterling work in improving the situation within certain provincial departments. Civil engineering needs to embrace such interventions and build upon them,” he said.

“The work is hampered, however, as a result of inadequate skills in departments.”

Kleynhans said a critical imperative was to ensure that each immovable asset remained fit for purpose for as long as possible through appropriate infrastructure asset management.