There are many reasons to look back over this extraordinary year with a positive view of how, as a country, South Africa has managed its responses and attitudes to the unprecedented, complex challenges the pandemic has visited upon us. It is vital to our humanity that we don’t let the overwhelming economic and developmental losses overshadow the tragic loss of life that permeates our daily reality. Living with a very real challenge to the health and safety of our all our lives is an unspoken challenge we are all facing, whilst rising to the practical challenges of this new normal. We have all done so much better than we realise.
And although we currently face a second wave of infections, we do this having learned an enormous amount about how we function and work safely, together. Throughout November and December, I have been hearing about an unexpectedly good recovery in the construction sector. And no more so than in our concrete industry. Demand is high, across the board. Raw materials, additives and admixtures, transport, mixing and pumping services and equipment – demand is almost overwhelming ability to supply. The demand for precast concrete products seems to never have been higher.
Perhaps the most unusual feature of this moment is that no one really knows where the strongest demand is coming from. Asking if demand is being driven by public sector or private sector is usually the simplest of questions. Not now, however. No one is sure, and no one really cares; work is work and we need to get ready for more of it.
So perhaps the most important thing for our sector as we close off this year, and consider what is coming, is to keep the strongest focus possible on how to keep working safely. We all need something to celebrate, and a better than expected recovery for our sector was not on the cards a short three months ago. Now, as we gear up for this sudden demand, we face a second wave of the pandemic. We can meet the safety challenge. We must invest in the training and equipment needed to prevent the second wave from bringing this strong recovery to a premature end.
We must all celebrate the end of this year; not because it was the year of the pandemic; pandemics don’t respect our calendars. But because of the incredible agility, commitment and resourcefulness with which we have faced it. The more we credit our efforts, the more likely we will be to continue them. Let’s keep building this better-than-expected recovery with the bricks and mortar of our commitment and wisdom.
Concrete Trends wishes everyone peace and fortitude, and to keep building on the foundations of 2020.
Publishing Editor, Concrete Trends.