‘We need to get back on the construction site to help save SA’

The construction industry needs to get back into action, not just for economic reasons but for the health and well-being of the country.

Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) chief executive Chris Campbell said: “Our country’s public works infrastructure is in dire need of maintenance and development.

“Failed infrastructure is exacerbating the risk of Covid-19, especially when it comes to water, wastewater treatment, and sanitation. The construction industry needs to get back to work to mitigate these risks.”

He said delaying work on water projects would have huge implications for disease control.

“The inlets to wastewater treatment plants can be tested for traces of the coronavirus, and it can be determined which communities are showing higher infection rates. This provides the medical authorities with a clearer idea of where to focus their attention when it comes to screening, testing, and treatment for Covid-19,” he explained.

To assist the industry with best practice guidelines, Cesa has put together a guide for the safe management of work processes.

On managing the risk of infection on construction sites, Jan-Hendrik Conradie, the chief executive of 22 Cape Road Investments, said: “On-site workers work independently and mostly out in the open.

“They also wear safety equipment and many already wear dust protectors so to extend this to the compulsory wearing of masks is easily implemented.”

Conradie said: “It is also possible to manage the number of workers on a site. There is already safety protocol in place on the commercial sites.”

Chief executive of RMB James Formby said: “South Africa is facing an icy economic winter which means the country has little choice but to sharply increase spending on infrastructure to try to get some growth going.”

Formby said this was the right time to start mobilizing the Infrastructure Fund announced in 2018 as part of the government’s Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan with a commitment of creating a fund size of R100 billion over 10 years.

Formby said: “Infrastructure by its nature stimulates growth and jobs and boosts GDP while creating lasting benefit to communities.”

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