Allen Bodill, MBAWC Executive Director
At a recent meeting between the Western Cape Ministry of Transport and Public Works and Master Builders Association of the Western Cape (MBAWC), it was revealed that the provincial government would be making significant funding available for the development of infrastructure.
R2.77 billion is to be spent on the construction and maintenance of roads, R1.2 billion will be used on education and a further R780 million will be devoted to healthcare. In addition, a number of regeneration projects are also planned.
According to newly installed MBAWC Executive Director, Allen Bodill, “All of these initiatives will help in creating a confident climate for the private sector to invest and will hopefully also attract direct foreign investment. Furthermore, the release of these funds will go a long way towards providing work for our members, comprising of some 400 companies in the Western Cape.”
He continues, “Although there has been an uptick in the number of projects currently underway and starting, as evidenced by the number of cranes along the Atlantic Seaboard and around the city, we believe that the construction industry in this region has a lot more capacity than is currently being utilised. Many of our Western Cape members report that the local industry is highly competitive, with several looking for—and undertaking–work outside of the borders of our region.”
Bodill hopes that the local government will continue to contribute to the industry through the release of more big-budget projects more regularly. He would also like to see more public-private partnership projects coming to the fore and believes that there is an appetite amongst the private sector to participate in these ventures. “Additional work from whatever source, be it provincial government or the private sector, would be a very welcome injection of activity.”
He acknowledges potential risks to the rollout of projects such as the current skills shortage. He also identifies unpredictable power-outages, due to load-shedding, as a great concern and says that the electricity crisis has very severe implications for the region’s economic prospects. In addition, the fluctuating fuel price and the possibility of interest-rate hikes in the near future represent further difficulties for the local construction contractors, many of whom are operating below capacity. “We also need to continue training, in order to replace those highly-skilled and experienced people, who are leaving the local industry at quite a rapid rate through retirement.”
Going forward, he advises the local construction industry to be cautiously optimistic, in the hope that an efficient, effective local government will continue to be a significant contributor of work to our region, helping to sustain as well as to create jobs.