Wednesday, 26 September 2007 02:00

Cape Town hopeful stadium strike nearing end

City of Cape Town officials are hopeful that the strike by construction workers at the 2010 soccer stadium in Green Point will soon be over.

Construction IndustryAll work stopped at the site last Wednesday when about 1000 workers employed by contractors Murray & Roberts and WBHO went on strike over a travel allowance.

The council's director 2010: technical, Dave Hugo, told Sapa on Tuesday the city was awaiting the outcome of a midday meeting between the contractors and union representatives over a shuttle service for workers.

A new drop-off and pick-up point close to Cape Town station had been proposed, and he was hopeful this would prove acceptable to workers.

"We've had no feedback as yet, but expect to do so during the afternoon," Hugo said.

It is understood that if the contractors provide a shuttle service for workers -- the site is about 2km from the station -- the travel allowance payment requirement will fall away.

Hugo said the stoppage, now in its fourth working day, was unlikely to set back the completion date for the 68,000-seater stadium.

"We can make the time up, working extra hours and weekends," he said.

 

 

Thursday, 30 August 2007 02:00

Murray and Roberts HEPS surge 77%

The group has extended its operations in all key sectors of the domestic markets and substantially enhanced its focused international presence

Monday, 30 July 2007 02:00

Boom time builds up to beyond 2010

Government and private sector infrastructure investments are expected to secure the boom in the construction and building industries until well after the 2010 soccer World Cup, according to industry leaders.

Brian BruceThey said the government's decision to go ahead with a R400-billion infrastructure programme, an even bigger commitment by the private sector and economic growth rates well above 5% a year would buoy the industries and drive the economy.

Brian Bruce, chief executive of Murray & Roberts, predicted the boom would continue long after 2010 and well "into the teens of the 21st century".

He cautioned, however, that there might be some ups and downs in the industry during this period.

But, despite this caution, construction companies are flocking to list on the JSE's alternate exchange, which facilitates listing of small companies.

Since AltX was established almost three years ago, 14 of the 50 companies listed are related to the building and construction sector with interests in home improvements, heavy construction and building materials and fixtures.

Among the bigger groups are Esor, Sanyati Holdings, Afrimat and the Raubex Group. The total market capitalisation of these companies this week was R20.6-billion, according to an AltX spokesman.

And Stefanutti & Bressan, with annual turnover of R1.7-billion, plans to list on the JSEs' main board on Friday after raising up to R465-million by placing 35 million shares. A limited offer of a further 11.5 million shares will be offered to vendors.

The company believes that revenues will grow to R2.5-billion in 2008. In the year to February, the group earned a net profit of R67.2-million, after the cost of BEE involvement, and expects this to grow to R115-million in 2008.

The group has a 15% BEE involvement through Mowana Investments.

Chairman and co-founder of Stefanutti & Bressan, Gino Stefanutti, said the construction industry was experiencing unprecedented growth and that there was "a positive picture of long-term growth for the industry".

Last month, the FNB Civil Construction Confidence Index, compiled by the Bureau for Economic Research recorded another increase.

Cees Bruggemans, chief economist at First National Bank, said that the figure reflected "very favourable business conditions". It is reported that the industry had grown by 13% a year since 2003.

The SA Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors noted that the number of people in the construction industry had risen to 114 000 in the first quarter of this year .

But, the FNB Index found , a shortage of skilled labour was affecting construction activities and impinging on completion times. Training would have to be accelerated to contain construction costs as a result of higher wages .

Power generation, with Eskom looking at another nuclear power station, will also help keep activity high. Power generation infrastructure development will begin in earnest next year and this is a 25-year project.

Transport, water and sanitation, schools and hospitals will need to keep pace with the macro- economic growth, said Bruce.

The attractiveness of the building and construction sector has attracted an unsolicited bid for building materials supplier Iliad Africa from a consortium led by Absa Capital. Talks are continuing.

Last week Iliad said it had acquired the Gauteng-based, R220-million-a-year Thorpe Timbers . Recently, the group bought USM Building Supplies and Lumber City in Lephalale (Ellisras). The combined acquisitions should add R350-million to revenues.


South Ocean, the Johannesburg-based manufacturer of building wires, has spent R10-million on the first phase of its expansion plans by purchasing new machinery that will increase its capacity by 10%.

The company, which was listed in February, has begun the second phase of expansion at a cost of R30-million for new machinery, buildings and working capital, which will add 15% to capacity.

The company recently acquired Radiant Lighting for R485-million, which expands its operations into decorative lighting, lamps and bulbs and electrical products.

Black empowerment group Afrimat announced two weeks ago that it had purchased two quarries and a concrete block-and-brick factory in KwaZulu-Natal, its second acquisition since listing in November. This brings its number of quarries to 22 and brick factories to nine.

The Melrose Arch Piazza comprises street-level shopping and offices in the successful Melrose Arch mixed-use precinct in northern Johannesburg.

Construction IndustryMelrose Arch is owned by Southern Palace, a joint venture between Amdec Property Development and Property Partners. Amdec is also the appointed development manager for Melrose Arch, driving the roll-out of all development projects on this prestigious mixed-use precinct. The Melrose Arch Piazza Scheme is financed by Nedbank.

Nicholas Stopforth, Melrose Arch Development Company director, explains that the appointment of Murray & Roberts Construction follows the company’s successful involvement in the first-phase construction of the mixed-use precinct.

“Murray & Roberts Construction’s combination of engineering disciplines and expertise will ensure the delivery of world-class solutions to the Melrose Arch Development Company. This is a high-profile project, and as a leading contractor in major retail developments, we are proud to have been appointed as the main contractor,” Colin Steyn, Murray & Roberts Construction director, says.

The Melrose Arch Piazza essentially forms an extension to the existing mixed-use fabric of Melrose Arch, meaning that the new development has to be integrated carefully with the old in terms of matching façades. The office buildings also have to integrate seamlessly with the existing basement parking and above ground open-street movement patterns, with clearly defined public and private domains.

Melrose Arch Piazza comprises nine separate highly individualised buildings with street-level retail and prime office space in the upper levels, located at the northern end of the existing development. There will be 28 000 m2 of retail and leisure space and 31 000 m2 of lettable office space above the retail space. The shopping component is scheduled for completion by Easter 2009, while the office component will be completed a month later.

DHK Architects and Boogertman & Partners, the architects and town planners on the project, state that the attractive, flexible and readily subdivisible office buildings will have varied façades. The urban street edges will be positioned carefully around the new Piazza, which forms the heart of the new precinct.

The architecture of the Piazza, which will have a total footprint of 42 000 m2, will extend the existing ‘contemporary African feel’ of Melrose Arch’s integrated urban fabric. This will be achieved by using First World and natural construction materials.

Commenting on quantities of materials to be used, Rui Santos, Murray & Roberts Construction project director, says the project will consume 50 000 m2 of concrete, 130 000 m2 of slab formwork, 4.5-million bricks, 81 000 m2 of plaster, 11 000 m2 of shopfronts and 10 500 m2 of tiling.

Following a lengthy negotiation process, Murray & Roberts Construction began working in January this year, after four months of bulk earthworks undertaken by Diesel Power. This included removing 250 000 m3 of soil to make way for the new basement parking. It also involved relocating this material to the neighbouring James and Ethel Gray Park as part of a R5-million upgrade sponsored by Melrose Arch.

Murray & Roberts Construction also acquired a brand-new Liebherr readymix batch plant, which was erected on-site and became operational in June. The staffing level will peak at approximately 50 permanent employees, while the labour force is expected to top out at 1 500 to 2 000 workers. A water bowser also operates constantly to minimise dust on the single access road.

In terms of specific project challenges, Santos says initial foundation work encountered a large quantity of rock, which complicated the bases as well as the lift shafts. The Piazza will have about 16 lifts and eight escalators. The presence of rock necessitated blasting and excavating, and trimming with hydraulic hammers fitted to excavators.

“Our quality of work, as well as meeting project deadlines, resulted in us clinching this project,” Santos notes. He explains that initially, during construction of Melrose Arch Phase 1 in 2000, four main contractors were involved with the landmark precinct. “Given the complexity and scope of this project, it is a real testament to our total-solutions capability to be appointed as main contractor on the Melrose Arch Piazza.”

Stopforth reports that the development rollout of Melrose Arch is proceeding well, with over 175 000 m2 of a total of 315 000 m2 in the precinct either built or under construction. First transfers of the sectional title offices at 1 and 3 Melrose Boulevard are expected in August 2007. Construction of Melrose Square on Oak Lane, another development on the Melrose Arch precinct where Murray & Roberts are the appointed main contractor, is already several floors above ground level.

 

Wednesday, 14 March 2007 02:00

Cape Town picks its Green Point builders

The R2,85bn tender for building the World Cup soccer stadium at Green Point was awarded yesterday to a joint venture of Murray & Roberts and WBHO Construction.

Mayor Helen Zille is 'very relieved' that construction of the 2010 World Cup Green Point project would go ahead

Monday, 11 December 2006 02:00

Just don't drop those bricks

Large projects are driving up share prices. But will they all be completed? The construction industry has spawned more listings this year than any other sector

Monday, 11 December 2006 02:00

Construction shares for the brave

In order to capture further potential gains in construction companies in the new year one will have to be a brave investor, according to Old Mutual's Faroz Basa.

MURRAY & Roberts Holdings, SA’s second-biggest construction company, says its order book increased as an expanding economy spurred building activity.

Thursday, 31 August 2006 02:00

WBHO to emulate peers with BEE deal

Construction group Wilson Bayly Holmes Ovcon is set to announce a black economic empowerment deal next month, the group said this week

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