Friday, October 16, 2009

Don't Expect Infrastructure Improvements Soon: "Civil Engineering Capacity In Local Government Too Low To Deliver"

No surprises here.

Serious capacity constraints are being faced by all municipal functions, says National Treasury technical assistance unit principal technical adviser Jeremy Timm.

“Constraints vary according to the type of municipality. We currently have two engineers for 100 000 people – we need at least five. “The overriding conclusion, based on experience and research carried out both locally and internationally, is that the civil engineering capacity in local government is too low to deliver, operate and maintain local government infrastructure in a sustainable manner,” Timm told the Infrastructure Dialogue, last week.

He added that the key recommendation was to rebuild structures, rather than embark on further restructuring exercises, and professionalise rather than politicise the appointment of technical staff. (So it is so stuffed, that they need to rebuild staffing structures)

Systems, processes and organograms supporting career pathing and professional development should be redeveloped and linked to technical competence profiles to ensure that national assets are adequately developed, operated and maintained. (Sounds like he is suggesting a meritocracy)

Timm cited individual capacity issues, such as understanding how skills are built, competing for scarce skills, deployment and employment, and regulating and providing individual skills.

“There is a need for alternative service delivery models, but these will be difficult to implement because of the capacity constraints; and there is increasing pressure for improved service delivery in precisely those areas where there are weak municipalities.” (The wheel turns)

The remainder of the article can be viewed here.

Engineering News

1 Opinion(s):

Doberman said...

This isn't like it wasn't predicted. The lack of engineers has been felt for at least 10 years. I know many engineers that have retired (age) or left for greener pastures (like me). Try and find an engineer for any project, I did when I left SA midway through a large project in 2006/07. I had completed two of the four phases and had to call on an old acquaintance who was 67 and retired to come on board. I spent a few months with him handing over the reins and he saw the project to a successful conclusion. He had also worked for councils all his life but was shunted out by AA. I know of three others like him. If your country doesn't want you, leave.

And it isn't like you can train engineers overnight. After graduation there is a lengthy continuous professional development program to undergo before an engineer is allowed to take responsibility for any work independently. Lives are at stake. It's a huge problem especially since our infrastructure is crumbling fast and needs, yes, engineers of all persuasions that are no longer available. I suppose we can expect a lot of fast-tracking of AAs now to fill the posts which leads one to ask the question: how safe do you feel crossing that the bridge designed by Sipho the AA?