Sector sceptical about build plan

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Sunday World

The embattled construction industry is sceptical about the government following through with the massive infrastructure spend plans announced this week.

President Cyril Ramaphosa this week hosted the Sustainable Infrastructure Development Symposium South Africa.

It was announced at the symposium that 276 projects, with a total investment value of R2.3-trillion, were currently being evaluated. Moreover, 55 of these are considered to be “shovel-ready”.

Master Builders Association North president, Mohau Mphomela said the industry can ill-afford empty promises and that implementation was key.

“If the state insists on playing a central role, we could see this initiative failing to meet its targets. Everything thus hinges on the ability of the Presidency’s infrastructure commission to convince investors that it is up to the task,” Mphomela said.

The construction industry has been under severe strain for several years now, with some of its leading players either having gone bust or in business rescue. The COVID-19 lockdowns have further intensified the sector’s vulnerability.

Siphamandla Mkhwanazi, senior economist at FNB, said should the projects announced at the symposium materialise, this would provide welcome relief for the civil construction industry.

“However, this is not the first time that grand plans for infrastructure delivery have been announced only for contractors to be disappointed by a lack of action later on. We will only see an increase in confidence once tender activity and tender awards start rising,” Mkhwanazi said.

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