26 April 2024

Caption: The organisation’s role has never been more important as the industry continues to battle headwinds. Credit: David Beer

…continued from Part 1.

He notes that the construction mafia continues to pose an enormous challenge for contractors, with scant protection from the police or assistance from clients. “Clients have put themselves at arm’s length from what is quite a messy situation in order to reduce their project risk, so contractors really are on their own as their project risk increases. Contractors are learning how to deal with these potentially explosive situations, and building genuine community engagement is key,” he says. “Dealing with construction mafias adds cost that’s difficult to pass onto clients even though margins are still very thin. At the moment, there seems to be no political will to resolve this crisis despite the regular promises from various political leaders including our president.”

MBA North has taken up the construction-mafia challenge, standing alongside members in the frontline when required. Morrow pays tribute to the active participation of the Executive Director, Mohau Mphomela, who often puts himself in harm’s way to help members.

Looking into the future, Morrow sees a growing need for the MBA North to expand its traditional supportive role. A significant focus remains health and safety; through its annual safety competition and regular training webinars, the organisation is helping even small contractors to improve performance in this area.

“We continue to cement our good relationship with the Department of Employment and Labour, and we can play a positive role as a trusted third party particularly when there is an onsite accident,” Morrow comments.

Morrow says he is particularly keen to see MBA North taking the lead in getting industry players engaging with each other about issues of pressing mutual concern. “The industry has become atomized – we need a united voice on many fronts,” he says.

Some of these issues are transport and logistics challenges, including slow transit through ports, the aforementioned construction mafia, the need for integrated training initiatives to counter a persistent skills deficit, and the perennial issue of the proper usage of JBCC contracts to protect all parties.

“The future is uncertain but we must do what we can to shape it. We look forward to helping MBA North play an even more important and constructive role in uniting the whole construction value chain and making its concerns heard,” he concludes.


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