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PPC CEO calls for 'infrastructure Codesa'

Ketso Gordhan has called for all parties involved in construction to set up talks to ensure efficiency.

The construction industry in South Africa has been plagued by collusion and price fixing.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa needs to find a way forward in dealing with its lack of infrastructure implementation, Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC) CEO Ketso Gordhan said on Monday.

Speaking to Talk Radio 702's Bruce Whitfield on Monday evening, Gordhan discussed his call for an 'infrastructure Codesa'.

The Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa) was a series of negotiations in the early 1990s aimed towards reforms to end the apartheid system of governance.

In those sessions, various parties with broadly different interests and goals attempted to take the first steps towards democracy in the country.

In a similar sense, an infrastructure Codesa would be a system where all parties involved in infrastructure development would come together to find the most efficient means of implementation.

"The ideal structure would be to have the key role players from the construction, financing, design and engineering businesses together with the relevant departments from government, sitting around and identifying what is stopping South Africa from implementing its infrastructure programme."

Gordhan said each party would have a different idea of what is holding infrastructure development back.

He said it was necessary to "put everything on the table" to find a solution.

The CEO also noted that within the industry and government itself, there were various ideological viewpoints.

Gordhan said some viewpoints were contradictory, which would make decision making harder.

"We all agree that we need to build more schools, hospitals, water treatment plants, roads, a whole bunch of things. This is an opportunity for the private sector to say, we will offer the best designs and a more open tender process."

This way, government will know it is getting better value for money from the private sector when it invests in construction.

Gordhan also discussed the history of collusion in the construction industry, going further back than the recent case before the Competition Commission of South Africa.

Companies were fined a collective total of R1.5 billion for their involvement in price-fixing related to projects such as the 2010 Fifa World Cup projects.

Gordhan said that there was not enough communication when planning the construction of prisons, for example, which lead to the building of "5-star prisons" because construction companies did not object to the government's excessive plans.

An infrastructure Codesa would allow for the necessary communication, negotiation and balancing of plans so that reasonable costs and successful projects are achieved.