22 March 2019

Widespread concern has spread like wildfire
across the built environment due to the construction mafia and gang-related
activities on project sites. Yunus Bayat from the Association of South African
Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) says that a major intervention is needed to protect
infrastructure projects, investor confidence, and the safety of professionals
in the built environment who are working on project sites.

“The Delangokubona Business Forum continues to
intimidate foremen, project managers and construction bosses by going onto
project sites and demanding a stake in their projects. As professionals working
on these projects, we cannot protect ourselves from this type of violent
intimidation and we are no match for the AK-47 automatic weapons that they
bring with them,” says Bayat.

projects worth R25,5bn+ are being violently disrupted and halted

18 March 2019, the South African Forum of Civil Engineering
Contractors (SAFCEC) issued an urgent plea for action from the Minister of
Finance, Tito Mboweni. In the letter, SAFCEC said that it is gravely concerned
that construction projects worth a minimum of R25,5bn are being violently
disrupted and halted in South Africa.

gangs demanded to be part of the R1,65bn SANRAL Bridge Project in the Eastern
Cape. These illegal site disruptions caused AVENG and the European-based
Strabag International to pull out of the project, which forms part of the N2
Wild Coast Road Construction project,” says Bayat.

the gang activities were reported to the police and interdicts were obtained,
the disruptors were released shortly thereafter. On Wednesday, 13 March 2019, a
R2.4bn German oil storage investment project that is being constructed by WBHO
in Saldanha, Western Cape, was halted after armed gangs arrived on site.

“The project site
pictures look like a war zone”

“The gangs demanded to be part of
the project and burned the properties to the ground. The pictures of the scene
look like footage from a war zone. Again, police were called, but they only
arrived hours later and said that the issue had to be handed over to the Paarl
police station. Contractors, female engineers, and other staff had to run for
their lives into the veld. The response from the South African Police Force
simply isn’t good enough anymore,” says Bayat.

On Monday, 18 February, the Black Business
Council In the Built Environment (BBCBE) issued a letter to Minister General
Bheki Cele from the Ministry of Police to request an appointment to discuss the
illegal stoppages of construction projects across the country. In the letter,
the BBCBE says that their members who are engaged in construction activity are
subjected to victimization and work stoppages on a daily basis due to local
business forums demanding participation in projects.

“The ASAQS is calling on the National
Prosecuting Authority and local police services to address the situation. A
strong and solid intervention is needed, and it should be seen as a top
priority for everyone in the built environment and government,” concludes

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