South Africa does not have an adequate framework to empower engineering and engineers into action - delivery of affordable and reliable services delivery. Picture: Angelo Kalmeyer
South Africa does not have an adequate framework to empower engineering and engineers into action - delivery of affordable and reliable services delivery. Picture: Angelo Kalmeyer

Public infrastructure development in SA inadequately managed and grossly neglected

By Opinion Time of article published Jul 26, 2021

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By Marie Ashpole and Godfrey Ramalisa

With all the recent destruction of infrastructure, it is important to face the fact that the critical area of public infrastructure development is inadequately managed and has been grossly neglected.

Professional engineering practitioners have been relegated to bystanders watching poor services infrastructure, which infringes on human rights and real value for money; and, increased unemployment of engineering graduates and practitioners.

Inopportune and unsuitable procurement processes have been adopted to allegedly transform the industry. However, this ‘transformation’ reduces black engineering excellence to unemployment, lack of professional registration and engineers completing tender documents rather than applying their engineering expertise and innovation to plan, design and construct award winning services infrastructure.

Graduates want to focus on practising engineering – literally building infrastructure and providing basic human needs. What kind of transformation is this, where money received by those who won tenders, makes no difference in people’s lives?

Gogo Dlamini and Gogo Mabe are still waiting on the government to provide them with water, sanitation and electricity by using engineering practitioners to plan, design and construct these basic human rights services. Only then would they have adequate safety and security.

The intention of the People’s Charter is progressive for its objectives to secure a better life for all. However, South Africa does not have an adequate framework to empower engineering and engineers into action in the form of affordable and reliable services delivery.

A constitutional oversight occurred when Chapter 9 institutions were established and the one profession, namely Engineering, which is at the heart of service delivery such as basic human rights and a capable state, was omitted. Without a Chapter 9-institution, the Engineer-General, the Batho Pele or infrastructure-related human rights will remain a “principle on paper”.

The demand for service infrastructure has already outstripped the supply of services with the resultant daily service delivery protests, which pose a threat to our democracy.

Only engineers, and engineering, can make #ProtectSouthAfrica, #humanrights infrastructure, NDP2030, and the economic reconstruction and recovery plan a reality.

Marie Ashpole is a retired journalist and Godfrey Ramalisa is a Stakeholder Manager Consulting Engineers South Africa.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the authors and not any organisation(s) they individuals are affiliated to.

The Star

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