Engineering Consultants key to unlocking project pipeline

Consulting Engineers South Africa (CESA) reiterates that there is a distinction between engineering consultants and consultants.

Engineering consultants are registered professionals with the Engineering Council of South Africa. They are key to infrastructure delivery as they are front end leaders responsible for investigation, planning, design and construction monitoring monitoring of infrastructure projects.

The then Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan said in his medium-term budget policy statement in 2014, that the largest cuts to “reduce costs and eliminate wasteful expenditure” would be to the amounts spent on consultants. He added that there are of course necessary engineering and advisory services employed by government departments which bode well for CESA and its over 500 strong member firms employing over 22,000 staff. However, it needs better contract management and stricter control of consultancy fees.

CESA has been vocal, open and honest with our dealings with the State and we have proper controls that require our members to perform their duties with integrity as we subscribe to the principle of business ethics.

It believes that the government should be spending more on engineering consultants in order to unlock projects and improve infrastructure spend and infrastructure delivery, which is necessary to alleviate inequality, poverty and unemployment.

CESA’s Acting CEO Wallace Mayne says that the workload of engineering consultants is two thirds government work and a third is private sector work.

The lack of engineering skills within Government leads to blocked project pipeline, poorly packaged bids to procure engineering services, delayed project implementation, inability to monitor service level agreements and implementation of projects. Consulting Engineers play a vital role in partnering with Government as their trusted advisors to ensure that sustainable solutions which provide both quality and value are procured by the various departments and at the same time providing skills transfer to mentor and train Government personnel to ensure continued service delivery.

“We have to reinstate the technical management capacity within government. There are enough engineering skills within the country to cope with the infrastructure workload,” avers Mayne.

He argues that the slow release of infrastructure projects is as a result of lack of technical skills in the government.

“CESA member firms are readily available to partner with Government to ensure that the project pipeline is unblocked, critical skills are transferred to the government, which will lead to service delivery imperatives being met and the quality of the lives of the people of South Africa improved,” concludes Mayne.