Building a Sustainable Construction Sector and Country

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SC-life-cycleBuilding a Sustainable South Africa was the theme of Master Builders South Africa’s (MBSA) 109th Congress held in Port Elizabeth over two days in September.

Congress 2014 addressed issues such as skills development, growth, transformation and job creation within the building and construction industry. Transformation took centre stage this year in what has now been termed a successful, informative and invigorating Congress aimed at addressing both local and global issues that continue to impact the construction industry.

Immediate Past President of MBSA Colin Cozens stated: “To ‘build a sustainable South Africa’, we need to have an all-inclusive building industry. We simply cannot leave out the previously marginalised parties as has happened in the past. The industry needs to transform at a faster rate than before and we need to win back our government’s trust that has been strained with the recent ‘collusive tendering’.”

He continued, “The building industry is the ideal platform to create jobs quickly and to transfer skills to the unemployed. It is in times such as we are experiencing now that the building industry needs government to be decisive and to increase spend in our industry and create desperately needed jobs.”

Deputy Minister of the Department of Labour, Inkosi Sango Patekile Holomisa, who delivered the first day’s keynote address, shared: “We are deeply concerned about occupational health and safety standards in this sector. Lately, we have witnessed too frequently the collapse of buildings, resulting in many people losing their lives. A safe and healthy environment will make construction jobs more desirable and continue to contribute towards skills development,” urged Holomisa.

Delegates were also honoured to have economic insight from the esteemed Dr Azar Jammine speaking on the subject of ‘Challenges facing South Africa’s economic prospects in the longer term’ who assured the delegates that, despite the pedestrian growth rate of the South African economy, the good news is that government has a strategy to address this – the National Development Plan.

Eastern Cape Premier Phumulo Masualle echoed Jammine’s statements and raised further concerns over the many challenges that continue to persist, including the fact that only 24% of the built environment professionals are black and only 9% are female. He reiterated that “we can build a sustainable South Africa in partnership and with a much greater sense of urgency andimproved accountability.”

Following the presentations, breakaway sessions were held to enable delegates and experts to discuss and debate issues such as ‘Energy Efficiency/Sustainability in the Building Industry’, ‘Building Standards’ and ‘Education and Training/Skills Development’. Resolutions from these will be presented to the MBSA board for possible consideration and implementation.

As is MBSA tradition, Congress officially closed with the Annual General Meeting during which the new President Neil Cloete and his Vice, Bonke Simelane, were installed as office bearers for the ensuing year. Cloete stated, “We need to transform and innovate in order to build a sustainable future for the industry and South Africa as a whole.” As part of his first duty as President, he announced that the 110th Annual Master Builders South Africa Congress will take place next year in Johannesburg.

Information provided to Blocks and Bricks by: Cape Brick

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