Engineering industry can change the landscape of the country avers Mokonyane

The Department of Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane has made a passionate plea and a clarion call for consulting engineers to partner with government and to perform their duty with integrity and improve the quality of life of the people for a better life for all.

“We represent a new department informed by the National Development Plan. Government is repositioning water and sanitation post 20 years of democracy, owing to service delivery challenges. We require your radical contributions to deliver water and sanitation solutions to our people. You are game changers and help us to make a difference in the lives of our people by delivering services to some of our people, who have become observers of service delivery but not beneficiaries,” urged Mokonyane at the Consulting Engineers South Africa’s (CESA) prestigious CESA Aon Engineering Excellence Awards held at Vodacom World in Midrand on Tuesday, 12th August 2014. An event that started by CESA in 1972 in order to spur and recognize consulting engineering member firms for their invaluable infrastructure projects designs and innovative engineering encouraged by their professional purpose to improve the quality of life of civil society.

The Minister focused on the role that consulting engineers can play in partnering with Government to ensure the roll out of the government Infrastructure programme is effectively implemented. Other high profile dignitaries that graced this auspicious occasion with their esteemed presence included one of the top six leaders in the ruling party as well as its Treasury General, Dr Zweli Mkhize and Ismail Vadi, Member of the Executive Council for Roads and Transport in the Gauteng Provincial Government

In the category of Visionary Client of the Year CESA gave recognition to the Department of Water and Sanitation. Through its Blue and Green Drop initiatives, a vast improvement in the important areas of operation and maintenance has been experienced. There has been a substantial impact through the roll out of infrastructure through its Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant (RBIG) programme.

The Blue and Green Drop initiatives incorporate incentive based regulation whereby each water supply system or wastewater treatment plant is assessed on various categories that encompass all aspects of treatment. Some of these include:

• Compliance to final water quality standards using accredited laboratories for testing;
• Having the correct class of process controllers that can properly operate the works;
• Preventative maintenance by qualified staff;
• Having a comprehensive overview of risks by means of a Water Safety Plan or Wastewater Risk Abatement Plan; and an
• Incident Management Protocol and Incident Register

Municipalities are also required to enforce bylaws; have an annual process audit conducted on their systems; and have an up to date asset register. Ultimately, those who obtain Blue or Green Drop Certification are seen as excellent. The RBIG programme, initiated in 2007, has allowed for the successful roll out of large water related projects. Great importance has been placed on the sustainability of the infrastructure through proper operation and maintenance plans. The programme also requires an additional step, to the normal design phase, called the Implementation Ready Study. This ensures that the infrastructure can be properly implemented and that all socio-economic and legal aspects have been considered.

CESA President Abe Thela said that the organisation identifies with the NDP, especially with the National Infrastructure Plan which is meant to accelerate the growth of the economy thereby reducing inequity, unemployment and poverty amongst the people of South Africa.

“Consulting engineering is not only at the forefront of infrastructure development but it is a critical and fundamental mechanism to providing the quality of life to the modern society. It is therefore imperative to establish strategic partnership with Government in order to compliment the required technical capacity to accelerate the implementation of both social and economic infrastructure in line with the NDP 2030 vision and goals,” reiterated Thela.