Industry body Consulting Engineers South Africa (Cesa) welcomes government’s focus on infrastructure development in support of economic recovery and job creation, as illustrated in Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) last month, says Cesa CEO Chris Campbell.
He says Cesa supports the development of an infrastructure fund in partnership with the private sector to enhance economic growth and improve governance. Further, he notes that infrastructure must be “brought to a state” at which it can and will stimulate other economic activities.
Cesa is pleased that government is developing a framework for financing infrastructure that will enable investors to assess potential long-term returns on public infrastructure projects. However, Campbell says South Africa needs to stimulate the growth of its economy before investors will invest in the country, but there is still uncertainty, and many promises are made prior to an election year. “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”
Although Cesa welcomes these positive steps by government, Campbell cautions that there are still many challenges to confront such as discounting the professional fees of consulting engineers, which is plaguing the sustainability of the consulting engineering industry.
Campbell warns that the quality of the service provided will be sacrificed, should a client be asking for a discount. Consulting engineers provide expertise for industries, and being frugal on compensating for their professional services could have dire consequences for infrastructure projects.
“Consulting engineers’ fees make up about 2% of the life-cycle cost of the investment. If the professionals must reduce their fee, they don’t have enough time and cannot afford to put in the expertise that would be required to help the client efficiently spend the other 98% of the cost.
Campbell believes that there should be a stronger partnership between procurement departments and technical practitioners, and that the private sector, along with the consulting industry, must create a better understanding of how to better derive value for money from investment in infrastructure.
He notes that Cesa plans to work closely with Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (Misa and offer support in terms of training regarding procurement and delivery management and hopes that this will aid in addressing the issue of discounting the professional fees of consulting engineers, Campbell concludes.