Author: Liesl Frankson

Crisis averted as work continues on collapsed Middle Lake Dam

A joint operation by all spheres of government has helped to avert a major crisis, where part of the Middle Lake Dam in Benoni caved in last month. Mayor of the City of Ekurhuleni, Mzwandile Masina, put together a Joint Operations Committee (JOC) following the collapse to help avoid the possible loss of lives and serious damage to infrastructure. The roads around the Middle Lake Dam, including on and off-ramps to N12 via Tom Jones Road and Bunyan Street remain closed whilst the operation is still underway. Committee successfully managed to divert the water at the onset, then moved on to deploy 11 suction pumps into operation to reduce the dam level in an effort to avoid further erosion on the exposed downstream face of the spillway. Full refurbishment to take place The lower dam level is also expected to assist engineers to access the damaged slab for repairs. Government notes that while this is a temporary measure, the... Read More

Eskom cuts executive structure

Eskom says it has successfully concluded the Section 189 process for its top executive structure, essentially reducing the number of positions in the organisation. According to the utility the decision to revise its executive structure will set a new course for the organisation to be cost-effective, efficient and sustainable. Group Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe notes that while the process was not an easy one the patience and support of all those who worked to conclude matters as efficiently as possible was appreciated. “We have managed to reduce the number of F-Band positions from a total of 21 to 9 by way of regrading or combining roles,” Hadebe explains. “The new structure, along with our strategy sets us on a path towards stability, and with an executive team that is refocused on improving operational efficiencies and reducing costs to improve profitability and drive the economy forward,” he adds. Accountability for profit and loss The Group Executives for the Generation, Distribution,... Read More

North West municipal recovery progressing well – Government

Minister of Monitoring and Evaluation, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, says steady progress is being made to bring the North West province back to stability. This comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed an Inter-Ministerial Task Team (IMTT) to conduct a governance and service delivery assessment in the province in response to widespread community uprisings and labour unrest that affected service delivery. Resource availability and payments Commenting on the situation in the province Dlamini-Zuma says progress is being made but a lot more still needs to be done. “Resources were not moving out to clinics. “The distribution of medicines and drugs was affected because there was a problem at the depot, and that has now been resolved. We are now at 80% availability in terms of medicines,” she explains. Turing to payment of service providers, which had fallen behind as a result of protests, now stands at 80% Dalmini-Zuma notes. “We have made progress with 80% of payments of service providers, which was... Read More

GE turbine tech to drive mega wind project in Sub Saharan Africa

GE Renewable Energy has partnered with GE Energy Financial Services to provide technology and debt financing for its flagship onshore wind project in Sub-Saharan Africa. The project, which is located south of Nairobi, in Kajiado, Kenya, is a 100MW wind power development that is expected to produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of 40 000 homes. As part of its commitments GE Renewable Energy will supply 60 of its highly efficient GE 1.7-103 turbines and a 17km (220KV) transmission line to carry the power to Isinya substation in Kajiado County. Clean energy The 100MW Kipeto wind power project will provide clean energy to the national grid as a significant contribution to Kenya’s Vision 2030 and Big Four Agenda. The project is expected to reach commercial operation in 2020. Commenting on the project Peter Wells, GE’s Onshore Wind Regional Director for Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa, says the company is incredibly proud to be a part of this exciting endeavour. “The... Read More

Women are the key to fighting climate change in Africa

For Africa to be better equipped to fight climate change, cope with disasters and build its green energy sector it needs to empower its women and girls. This was the view of African delegates discussing the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Katowice Poland recently. According Mafalda Duarte, head of the Climate Investment Fund, research shows that agreements on the environment are more likely to be ratified and projects around natural resources, such as water, are more likely to succeed if women are involved in decision making. Addressing needs Dana Elhassan, senior gender expert at the African Development Bank added that empowering women in the context of climate change empowers a family, a community and a country. “You cannot solve a problem with half the team. A lot of the unpaid work that women do, such as collecting firewood and water, and caring for the family, are massively affected by climate change – so we have to make sure... Read More

Is waste ash South Africa’s next big thing?

South African entrepreneurs stand to make a fortune out of the millions of tons of coal ash produced by the country’s generators annually. This is according to the South African Coal Ash Association (SACAA) which has partnered with government to increase ash usage by 20% of offtake as well as create 26 000 new jobs over the next 5 years. SACAA general manager, Mark Hunter, says the association is looking for industrial entrepreneurs to assist in identifying and developing viable business opportunities for the use of waste ash generated by producers, such as Eskom and Sasol, via their boilers. Many applications for ash As the second biggest waste stream, after organic waste that is sent to landfill, coal ash is fast becoming a problem for the country which is running out of space to dump the ash. “First and foremost, we need ash to be excluded from the classification of hazardous waste.  There is a plethora of research which... Read More

SRK celebrates 25 years of engineering innovation in Pietermaritzburg

From humble beginnings in 1993, SRK Consulting’s Pietermaritzburg office has grown to a world class operation that has served its region and beyond with a diverse range of projects. Rob McNeil, now a corporate consultant and principal geotechnical civil engineering technologist at SRK, first manned the office to get the ball rolling in 1993, after Durban-based SRK director Mike Slabbert pushed to have a presence in the KwaZulu-Natal capital. “Although Durban was the commercial hub, it was important to have a presence in Pietermaritzburg, as its status as capital meant that many organisations, who were clients or potential clients, had their regional headquarters there,” explains McNeill. “We already had some contacts in the Pietermaritzburg area, and began with designing road upgrades, water supply and stormwater systems for municipalities – as well as a project for Umgeni Water that included river boardwalks and a temporary dam at the agricultural showgrounds,” he notes. A breakthrough The firm’s breakthrough came when it... Read More

Housing Development Agency placed under administration

Minister of Human Settlements Nomaindiya Mfeketo has approved the executive’s decision to place the Housing Development Agency (HDA) under administration.   According to Mfeketo these steps have been taken to ensure that the HDA’s governance and financial management, administration and operations continue until a board has been appointed for the agency. The minister says she expects the move to strengthen the services provided by the HDA to address the community’s critical needs. Despite technical support from the National Department of Human Settlements and grant transfers from various provinces and municipalities, the HDA has been unable to translate its mandate and strategic and performance plans into concrete outputs and outcomes. This has led to poor performance and outputs in the Catalytic Projects Programme, the National Upgrading Support Programme, Public Sector Land and Property Development Programme and the Human Settlements Programme Interventions in Distressed Mining Towns. Things reached a climax last week when the board took the decision to suspend the... Read More

Water tankers dispatched to areas of Tshwane affected by restrictions

The City of Tshwane is set to deploy water tankers to areas currently affected by water restrictions. Several areas in Gauteng have been hit by water supply issues following electrical problems at one of Rand Waters pumping stations. City spokesperson Samkelo Mgobozi told Eye Witness News: “It’s not too bad; we will continue to monitor the situation, as it’s not out of control as yet. You must also understand that it’s December month and the demand has quite increased. “The areas that are most affected right now are Centurion, some areas in Pretoria west and Atteridgeville.” Dire water situation in Gauteng Meanwhile the Department of Water and Sanitation is urging the public to intensify its water conservation efforts as dam levels decline with the increasing temperatures. “The impact of the high temperatures and excessive use of water has been felt in the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS), which continues to fall week-on-week. “The system fell from 71.9% last week... Read More

Pre-qualification for main works of LHWP Phase II to start in 2019

The pre-qualification for the construction of the main works on Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) is expected to start in Jan 2019 according to the Lesotho Highlands Development Agency (LHDA). The agency is calling for expressions of interest for the construction of the 165m high Polihali Dam and the 38km long Polihali Transfer Tunnel. Tente Tente, Phase II Divisional Manager says he expects this announcement to attract the interest of major engineering and construction companies, and the agency is encouraging suitably experienced contractors to join forces with local contractors and apply. A busy year “While the project is behind the timelines proposed in the Feasibility Report, given the two-year deferred start, Phase II is stepping ahead purposefully with 2018 having been a busy year for the both the water transfer and hydropower components,”  Tente notes. More than 35 contracts are in force covering a range of activities from environmental impact assessments, to socio-economic and resettlement... Read More

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