In pursuit of growing the Gauteng economy through public infrastructure projects, Public Transport and Road Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo on Wednesday said Transnet’s Tambo Springs inland terminal formed part of the province’s drive to accelerate provincial and national economic growth.
Mamabolo pointed out that the project, for which the preferred bidder was announced last week, would raise the province’s economic growth by 1% and the country’s economic growth by 12% over 15 years.
It would also have a R20-billion multiplier impact in the economy over 20 years.
He mentioned during a stakeholder engagement forum at Africa Construction Expo, in Midrand, that the site handover and construction of the Tambo Springs project would start in November.
The terminal would be built around the N3 highway, making transport more efficient and effective, lowering the cost of transport and subsequently also the cost of transported goods.
Mamabolo estimated the terminal’s value at R10-billion, which includes road infrastructure to support the logistics hub.
Further, he said the government was still planning to expand the Gautrain to more areas in a multi billion-rand public–private partnership transaction that would further contribute to the province’s economic growth.
He added the expansion would be accompanied by the roll-out of massive commuter transport networks in the province.
“The Gauteng economy used to boom on the back of gold mining. That economy is gone. To grow the economy, we need to move above ground, we need to link sectors and move people around, for which transport is key.”
Meanwhile, the theme of the seventh Africa Construction Expo in 2019 was ‘transformation through education’.
National African Federation for the Building Industry president Aubrey Tshalata remarked that 70% of work in the construction industry continued to go to non-black entities, which highlighted the need for greater transformation in the sector.
The expo, co-located with the Totally Concrete Expo, brought together more than 9 000 construction experts and professionals from all over the African continent. The expo was part of the “big five” construction events where international, local and continental exhibitors showcased their products and services.
Tshalata said the industry had put more than 6 000 young people through training, in the form of apprenticeships, learnerships and short skills programmes. “Education is key to transforming the construction industry, since currently many engineers are leaving the country and graduates roam the streets without employment.”
In discussing education, Tshalata emphasised the importance of considering the Fourth Industrial Revolution in designing training programmes. “It requires new skills sets, it brings in new methods of construction, including modular construction methods, as well as green construction methods.
“These skills need to be taught to make the construction sector future proof.”
To achieve a recovery in the construction sector, Tshalata recommended that more organisations and industry bodies consolidate in an effort to rescue the industry from decline and ensure it exceeds.
However, South African Forum of Civil Engineering Contractors CEO Webster Mfebe questioned how transformation in the sector could happen while it was losing jobs.
The sector had shed 142 000 jobs in the first quarter of this year.
“Nearly 100 000 businesses are still at Construction and Industry Development Board’s entry level, level-one grading. How can this sector transform if we are trampling over each other’s feet? We are trampling each other for a piece of the construction cake.”
Meanwhile, there were ever-increasing pressures, such as climate change and the growth of the population and urbanisation, which had to be considered during construction planning.
“Cities have grown to need Internet connection technologies and other means to improve the quality of life, the efficiency of urban operations and service delivery and competitiveness.
“A sustainable city ensures that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental, as well as cultural aspects. Cities require a happy marriage between people, planet and profit,” Mfebe stated.