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'Infrastructure Codesa' welcomed

SAFCEC and some CEO's of construction companies are supportive of such a plan.

The construction industry in South Africa has been plagued by corruption but some have called for a new form of discussions to better implement development.

JOHANNESBURG - Some members of the construction industry would strongly support PPC CEO Ketso Gordhan's idea for an 'infrastructure Codesa', wherein all parties involved in infrastructure development would come together to find the most efficient means for its implementation.

Talk Radio 702's Bruce Whitfield said on Tuesday night that there had been a weak response to the idea, but his guest, Norman Milne, President of South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (SAFCEC), said he believed most CEOs would indeed be supportive.

CEO of Wilson Bayly Holmes-Ovcon (WBHO), Mike Wylie said that he would be supportive of such a plan.

Milne, speaking on behalf of all of SAFCEC's members, said, "We would be enormously interested in this initiative and we would be more than willing to participate."

He suggested that the lack of response was simply down to the fact that the idea hadn't had enough time to be considered and that possibly the wrong people were contacted for their opinions.

SAFCEC is a major player in the construction industry as the national representative of civil engineering contractors.

On its website, SAFCEC is described as a leader in the industry.

"Few South African organisations have played a greater role than SAFCEC in developing South Africa's infrastructure, which has been the foundation of the country's economic prosperity."

Milne said that there is an "urgent and pressing need to provide services and infrastructure and currently the models being used are not effective".

He added that the current models are also vulnerable to corruption, but said that the 'infrastructure Codesa' would definitely help to improve the situation.

"We need to embrace new delivery models and one of the ways we can do that is by getting everybody around the table."

He said the best way for SAFCEC to help is by getting involved early in contract negotiations to make sure that project plans are feasible in all respects.

He said that the 2010 World Cup stadia could have been a lot cheaper if the standardisation of components was considered.

The discussion came after Gordhan spoke on 'The Money Show' on Monday night about his idea to emulate the original Codesa series of negotiations to improve the state of infrustructrue development in South Africa.

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.

Gordhan said, in terms of an 'infrastructure Codesa', "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."

He conceded that there would be a number of difficulties in such a set-up, largely down to varying ideologies in government and the private sector, but these could be overcome by a common goal.

"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."

In turn, government and the public would benefit from cheaper and more efficient projects.