South Africa seems to be on a knife-edge, a time of challenge and turmoil — balancing between economic success and disaster. Faced with several challenges, the engineering profession is also at a tipping point. Through the decisions and actions of engineers now, history will judge their contribution to the development of South Africa. SAICE and its sister associations trust that their contribution will tip the scales towards successful and sustainable development.
Since its inception, the Civilution philosophy has embodied engineers’ hope of enhancing levels of respect and recognition for the profession. In partnership with government, engineers can assist in countering failing infrastructure and contribute towards sustainable development and prosperity for all.
What is Civilution?
Many of the challenges facing the industry are contentious, and divergent views and disparate aspirations will have to be accommodated. Also, much that is required will take engineers out of their comfort zones; therefore requiring a Civilution.
The term Civilution aptly illustrates what engineers need to address in the industry. They have to raise and address controversial issues to enable engineers to fulfil their rightful roles. They have to establish communication with all spheres of government to establish a flourishing industry by re-professionalising government departments, and especially local municipalities, which will effect timely roll-out of projects. Only in this way will engineers be able to provide the professional service of which they are capable. The industry needs to provide an improved service to the various constituencies that benefit from engineering.
By implementing these, the following challenges could be addressed:
· Lack of or inadequate service delivery in many local authorities
· Lack of infrastructure development which affects the economy
· Timely roll-out of infrastructure projects, especially water infrastructure
· Some of the challenges such as corruption, collusion, tender-preneuring, lack of training and mentorship, could then also be tackled.
Civilution aims at moving away from the status quo where engineers are retrenched where inadequate provision is made for students needing experiential training, graduates lack sufficient on-the-job mentoring, where undercutting for tenders is the order of the day where salaries are inadequate, where even established engineering companies are struggling, and where institutions are restricted from playing a more meaningful role in assisting government.
Central theme for 2016 – Minimising risk by maximising accountability
Only a culture of accountability, where it is clearly understood that everyone in the industry (and in government) is responsible, can corruption, non-delivery of services by government and roll-out of infrastructure projects, to name but a few, be eliminated.
Voluntary associations and government need to join forces to build a stronger partnership to effect accountability in both the industry and all tiers of government. Consulting engineers, civil and mechanical engineers need to be on board to move forward to revolutionise South African and African engineering.
In conclusion, to realise the theme of Civilution 2016, accountability and transparency should be non-negotiable!