In Part 2 of this article, Dr Chris von Holdt, Director Asset Management of Zutari, a leading consulting engineering and advisory firm, talks about the dire state of South Africa’s biggest asset, our infrastructure.
However, Minister Zikalala noted: “As a country, we cannot always be building. We will introduce innovative approaches to ensure that infrastructure maintenance by all spheres of government is proactively planned and that budget ringfenced for infrastructure is spent for what it is earmarked for.”
Research has shown that proactive and preventative maintenance provides a positive economic return on investment and is labour intensive, which represents low-hanging fruit for our country that is suffering from infrastructure reliability and performance problems as well as high unemployment.
Zutari adds value to many of the largest asset owners on the continent with our asset management capability and are very proud of that. Our experience has shown that managing existing infrastructure requires a systematic and sustained effort underpinned by technical capacity and tight management controls, which is why I believe a national-scale programme that leverages private sector capability is urgently needed.
It is evident that government in general and local government in particular has struggled with the implementation of effective maintenance programmes and the likelihood that this situation will improve in the near term is highly unlikely.
The private sector requires basic infrastructure to be in place and to be properly maintained for it to operate and grow our economy. Mining, for instance, have recently claimed substantial revenue losses due to the current dysfunctional logistics network. The current situation can be turned around with the application of expertise and technical capacity that exists in the private sector, but we need a strategic approach led by government and we need to start taking action.
As part of our contribution to develop a skills pipeline for the industry, Zutari has a robust graduate programme that brings in 120 to 150 graduate engineers a year. We are committed to nurturing young talent, assisting them to obtain their professional certification and encouraging them to have a positive impact in shaping the future as engineers.