South Africa: Construction Is Booming North of Durban



23/01/2020
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All of the biggest industries in KZN require sophisticated engineering skills. Marine engineering is a provincial strength.

Property company Tongaat Hulett Developments won Visionary Client of the Year at an engineering awards event in 2017, a recognition of how much construction is underway north of Durban on land that used to be covered in sugar cane.

The South African construction sector is experiencing tough times, with more than one company going into business rescue in 2018, which could explain why the annual Cesa Aon Engineering Excellence Awards acknowledged the developer of eight large projects covering commercial, industrial, retail and residential.

The other mega-project that has created a lot of work for engineers has been the multi-year Western Aqueduct project to bring fresh water to greater Durban.

The Western Aqueduct Joint Venture comprising three companies, Knight Piésold Consulting, Naidu Consulting and Royal Haskoning DHV, acted as agents for eThekwini Water and Sanitation. Stefanutti Stocks Pipelines played a big role, and there were opportunities for excellence and innovations in areas such as break-pressure tanks which were designed by Royal Haskoning DHV and built by ICON Construction.

Marine repair and engineering form a significant sector in the province, with established companies such as EBH South Africa offering comprehensive services at the ports of Durban and Richards Bay (pictured). Both ports are expanding (Durban is building a cruise liner terminal, for example) and will continue to attract engineers.

Dormac, which is headquartered in the Bayhead area of the Port of Durban, is best known for its marine engineering but it offers specialised services to the sugar industry and provides machinery for industrial giants like Toyota and Defy.

All of the province's biggest industries require sophisticated engineering skills: aluminium smelters in Richards Bay and steel works in Newcastle, Richards Bay and Cato Ridge. There are also chemicals and plastics production plants, and large automotive works.

The Transnet Engineering (TE) plant in the Port of Durban houses six business units and has 3 555 employees. The Coach unit upgrades coaches and the Auxiliary business is the main supplier of rail wagon tarpaulins to Transnet Freight Rail. The Port Equipment Maintenance unit and units specialising in wheels and locomotive overhaul are other entities. There are a further six depots located around the province.

The School of Engineering at the University of KwaZulu-Natal offers a variety of degree options, ranging from undergraduate qualifications to doctorates. The School offers eight areas of specialisation including Bioresources, Electronic and Computer Engineering, and Land Surveying.

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