The Ministry of Infrastructure, Scienceand Technology (MIST) incollaboration with ministries ofTransport and Communications; LocalGovernment and Rural Development;Minerals, Energy and Water Resources;and Lands and Housing last week hostedthe annual Construction PITSO at DitshupoHall under the theme; Constructing theeconomy; consolidation strategic partnerships.The Pitso brought together a widerange of stakeholders across the constructionindustry to refl ect on past constructionresolutions as well as coming up withnew ones. “This year’s theme is signalingprogress in that we are now focused towardsconsolidating strategic partnershipsbetween Government and the Private Sector.
It is my view that between the last Pitsoand now collective efforts have been madetowards overcoming many of the challengeswhich were made then,” said MISTminister, Johnnie Swartz.The last Pitso passed 13 resolutions andthe action plans were split between theGovernment and Private sector. One of thekey issues raised was the unbundling ofprojects into smaller components to ensurecitizen contractors participation in line withthe Government’s citizen empowermentinitiative. “I have to point out that therehave been some challenges in implementingthis directive due to among others, thecomplexity of contractual arrangementsand management of multiple contractorson one site which requires additional humanand fi nancial resources,” he said.Swartz further said that despite challenges,he was pleased to indicate that his ministryis now unbundling some of the largeprojects into smaller packages from awardscale to lower grade contractors.
He saidthat unbundling was done in large scaleon maintenance projects and to a limitedextent for development projects as they donot currently have any new mega projects.“Examples of the latter include MogoditshaneSenior Secondary School staff housingand Block 10 police staff housing projects,”he added.The other key issue highlighted wasrelated to the future strategies for maintenanceof complete facilities which hasbeen a major challenge over the years.“The buildings maintenance budgets for allministries except for the Ministry of Healthwere consolidated into one budget undermy ministry this year and this developmenthas facilitated effective planning andprioritization of interventions. Moreover,my ministry will be undertaking a conditionsurvey of Government facilities in thisfi nancial year using the services of the privatesector to augment internal resourcesand the idea is to facilitate forward planningand to prepare for the execution of rehabilitationworks in the coming year.
Theintention is to follow this up with a longterm facilities management programme forthe continuous upkeep of these facilities,”Swartz said.The other issue of restructuring the ministryin order to better respond to the challengesbefore them is at an advanced stage.The proposal for the new structure hasbeen approved by the Government upperpanel and is currently being processed foronward submission to cabinet for consideration.Two key features in respect of theinfrastructure mandate are the creation ofa project planning coordinating departmentand the conversion of the maintenancedivision of DBES to a Facilities ManagementUnit.
In the area of establishmentof professional acts which aim to facilitateself regulation of various professions,the ministry is striving for self regulationof the different built environmentprofessions as two bills which are theEngineer’s Registration (Amendment)bill and the Quantity Surveyors bill havebeen approved by Parliament.In another attempt to improve thedelivery of infrastructure projects anddevelop capacity and skills of the localconstruction industry, a proposal for theestablishment of Public InfrastructureContracts Management Agency hasbeen put forward.
“It is envisaged thatthis will be a single window throughwhich major Government projects areexecuted in a more coordinated and efficient manner,” Swartz said .The minister acknowledged that thereis some improvement in the quality ofprojects largely due to the quality auditinspections which were initiated threeyears ago. He further said that the interventionscontinue to ensure improvedquality and have saved the Governmenthuge amounts of money.