South African construction company uplifts local communities.

A custom-designed formwork system was designed by Uni-Span for the construction of the water tower. Image credit: M&D Construction Group

21 May 2021 – While South African based M&D Construction Group delivers critical infrastructure projects, it ensures that local communities are empowered and uplifted throughout the construction phases.  

Many small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), including black-owned suppliers and emerging contractors, as well as representatives from Ward 86 in Duduza in the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in South Africa, have had an opportunity to work alongside M&D Construction on the Masetjaba Project.

Work on Masetjaba commenced in December 2019 and will be completed at the end of this year. It entails constructing a 15ML reservoir and 2ML water tower to strengthen existing water supply to rapidly expanding Duduza and planned new developments in the area. Included in the work scope is the construction of a pump station, counting all related pipe work, as well as mechanical, electrical and instrumentation installation. This is in addition to the construction of the inter-connecting pipelines.

“As is the case with all of its infrastructure projects, Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality wanted to ensure that the project would benefit many people from this community right from the early stages of the construction programme,” says Niekie Wagener, Head of M&D’s Civil and Infrastructure Division. “In line with one of our core values, Khula Nathi, M&D continues to help develop new and smaller entrants to the South African construction industry. Over the years, many of these suppliers and emerging contractors have become critical members of our supply chain and continue to ‘grow with us’. We are also proud of the strong working relationships that we have forged with many members of communities located within our vast national project footprint. They have not only benefited from the employment prospects that have been created on our projects, but also the high-quality training and mentorship that we provide on our construction sites. This is as part of our socio-economic commitments on contracts and our own corporate-social investment initiatives.”

As many as 40 members from Ward 86 in Duduza were employed to work on this project and received NQF3 training in various fields. They include scaffolding installation, structural steel erection and fall arrest. This is in addition to the in-service and safety training that all workers underwent in support of the company’s other core value, namely “being safe” on all its projects. The high-quality training on this project was provided by Nirvana Training and Marung T on behalf of M&D.

To date, eight black owned SMMEs have participated in the project. Hlokza Trading was subcontracted to undertake the earthworks and Blast Quest all blasting requirements on site.

Performance Wire was appointed to supply and install the steel reinforcing, a task that it is undertaking with Indlela Enhle. Hope Projects is working with M&D’s team on the pump station building works, while Diamond Towers, 442 Protection and Beya Legacy are providing site security services.

Juan Venter, Site Agent of M&D Construction Group, says that the company always adopts a clear and direct approach when engaging with community members.

“Every community-based project is different, considering varying dynamics from one project site to the next. While managing community expectations has been one of the challenges on this project, we continue to build on the sound relationship we have nurtured with representatives from Ward 86 in Duduza since construction started. This has helped to mitigate delays due to work stoppages – testament to our focus on always ‘finding the best way’ and ‘doing what we say’. These are M&D core values and important commitments that we made to Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality when we were awarded this contract. I am pleased that we have again been able to honour them,” Venter says.

M&D’s initial engagement with the community was undertaken via Ward Councillor, Bongani Hlope, and the nominated Community Liaison Officer, Thulani Mngoma. They initiated the employment regime and advertised the sub-contracting works within the community. Some of the work packages were advertised multiple times to ensure all sectors of the community had an opportunity to price the works.

This technically complex contract has also provided some community members with an ideal training ground and sound introduction to the construction sector.

Designed by Tlou Consulting Engineers, the water tower with its unique and striking architectural feature provided its share of challenges.

To ensure high levels of accuracy and a quality finish, a custom-designed formwork system was designed by Uni-Span. The system mainly comprised of single-use items that were manufactured on site according to the requirements of the construction team. Meanwhile, special panels also had to be manufactured at the formwork specialist’s factory and transported to the project site as and when required.

The reservoir was initially positioned on a fault line and this was only discovered once excavation for its foundations had started. Naidu Consulting Engineers was able to think on its feet and devise an innovative solution to mitigate movement over time.

To avoid delays, M&D proposed the use of a precast-concrete roof as opposed to constructing it using in-situ methods. While providing a faster means of constructing the overhead structure, significant changes had to be undertaken to the original reservoir design to accommodate the columns and the leak detection system.

Rukesh Raghubir, CEO of M&D, says that he is proud of the stellar work that his team is undertaking on yet another community-based construction project.

“This project again demonstrates the critical role that the construction industry has to play in government’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery strategy. It is creating many jobs and helping to develop important skills that we need to rebuild the country. This is in addition to the large role that this state-of-the-art infrastructure will play in uplifting the lives of many poor people once it has been completed by providing essential basic services. Our work for this client showcases exactly why we have remained leaders in community-based public sector projects for all of these years,” Raghubir concludes.

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