Management at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium is in discussions with the Mandela Bay Development Agency to redevelop some aspects of the North End Lake precinct as a stepping stone to greater economic activity in that part of the city. 

Monday, 31 May 2010 02:00

Blatter hails Bay stadium

With less than two weeks to kick-off, world soccer boss Sepp Blatter yesterday gave the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium a big thumbs-up.

There will be three sources of power at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth during the Soccer World Cup next year, the NMB 2010 director said.

Tuesday, 06 October 2009 02:00

Stadium to make R20m a year after 2010

Plans to ensure the success of Mandela Bay’s R2,2bn soccer stadium beyond next year’s World Cup were spelt out by the head of the company appointed.

Thursday, 18 June 2009 02:00

New stadium is a world-class asset

Rugby spectators said they had been breathless when they saw the beauty of Nelson Mandela Bay‘s new stadium.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009 02:00

All systems go for 2010 World Cup

With one year to go, stadiums are nearly ready for the greatest sporting spectacle in the world.

Only a few aesthetic touch- ups, such as road construction around the precinct and the laying of grass, remain to be completed at the Nelson Mandela Bay 2010 stadium.

Sunday, 14 September 2008 02:00

The science of getting lucky

There is nothing like a bit of success to get chief executives deciding that they would like to speak to the press, after all.

Roger JardineRoger Jardine, who made history in 1994 when he became South Africa’s youngest director-general at 29, became chief executive of construction group Aveng two months ago, when its share price had tanked to R50 and things weren’t looking great. He gave his secretary firm instructions not to allow the media, or certainly this newspaper, anywhere near him.

Fast forward to Monday last week. The share price had recovered almost R20 and Jardine was basking in the glow of a strong set of results and a bursting order book.

Now, about that interview, asked his publicist.

Which for me raised an old question. How much are good results down to the chief executive and how much merely a matter of the company being in the right industry at the right time?

“Somebody once said you must never mistake luck for genius,” responds Jardine with a dry chuckle.

The question could be asked of any listed company with operating subsidiaries, he says.

“It depends on what goes on at the centre, generally elevated from the day-to-day operations.”

But if there’s a world cup round the corner, stadiums to be built and contracts lining up to be signed?

CEOs would soon be in big trouble if they just signed willy-nilly, he says.

“Things like managing risk are more carefully scrutinised than they would be if you were just chasing the next contract.

“There are a number of areas where head offices play a constructive role.”

Risk management is one of the most important.

“If that flies out of the window, all sorts of things can go wrong.

“When we are about to put in bids on major contracts we look at contract risk, execution risk, political risk.”

Execution risk?

“If you take on a big job, can you do it? Will you be able to deliver on what you promised?”

The biggest potential constraining factor for Aveng, “given the amount of work in the pipeline”, is capacity, he agrees.

“You have to make sure you have the people to do the job, and, if you don’t have them, where are you going to get them from?”

It is no secret that the construction industry is short of engineers, and Aveng is no exception.

“There is a shortage of skills,” says Jardine. “But there’s a package of measures you can put in place to make sure you attract and retain people.”

Offering new challenges to your engineers and other specialists is essential.

“When you win a big mandate, people are attracted to that. You attract people from elsewhere. That’s why it’s important for companies to win big, prestigious contracts.”

On this score, Aveng is doing well.

“Our order book is currently sitting at 123% of this year’s revenue,” he says, although the only projects he can name off the top of his head are Soccer City, the Port Elizabeth stadium and the new Heineken brewery on the East Rand.

Of course, his competitors are also getting big, prestigious contracts to entice a limited pool of bright engineers and keep them happy.

“That’s why you have to be on top of the game when it comes to winning the war for talent,” says Jardine.

Keeping the contracts coming is just one of the battles.

“We need to give people a sense of belonging, and to be proud of working for Aveng.

“We spend a lot of resources on testing the mood of our people, and investing in them through training and development (R30-million in the past year).

“In addition, you need to make sure that people are feeling properly compensated for their investment in the business,” says Jardine.

For qualified artisans, engineers, surveyors, project managers — you name it — South Africa should be their oyster right now.

But schools and universities are not producing the required skilled people.

Fifteen years into the new South Africa and Jardine’s skilled workforce is still overwhelmingly white. And that is not, as the employment equity commission would have it, because of racist recruitment policies.

Like its competitors, Aveng invests big money and resources, at schools, universities and through in-house training programmes, to identify, nurture and develop black skills. Nothing less than the sustainability of the industry depends on it, says Jardine.

But the skills are still not much in evidence.

As the former director-general of the Department of Science and Technology, Jardine knows better than most why not.

“We don’t have a culture of science and technology in society at large,” he says.

“We have to look at promoting a culture of science where, from a very young age, children can aspire to be great scientists one day.”

Where are the science museums, he asks? Where are the libraries to provide access to the kind of reading that might fire young minds?

How much money is going into our research institutions?

“There’s a whole chain of things that we need to pay attention to.”

Jardine, 43, grew up in the decidedly unintellectual environment of Riverlea township, south of Johannesburg, and became a physicist.

“The way I decided that I was going to be a physicist one day was that when I was at high school I opened the Sunday Times and there was an article about a black physicist. That was the first inkling I had of, hey, wait a minute, physics is open to me. I think role models are very important for young people in pursuing these careers.”

After matriculating at Woodmead school, in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, Jardine went to the university of the Witwatersrand for a year and then won a scholarship to study in the US. He got his BSc and MSc in radiological physics but practised only “very briefly” at a medical centre for cancer patients before returning to South Africa in 1992 to work at ANC headquarters and become a civil servant.

A waste of scarce resources or what, I ask?

“There was debate when I came home that some in the ANC felt I was wasting my education. But I felt very strongly that I wanted to be part of rebuilding South Africa. I was very passionate about being part of those who were preparing for the democratic stage of our country.”

After leaving government, he ran Kagiso Media and Kagiso Trust Investments for eight years. When the chairman, Eric Molobi, died Jardine moved on.

“I was very close to him, he was a mentor to me. His death caused me to think about my own path in life and I thought I needed a change.”

Aveng approached him.

“I liked the idea that it was infrastructure at the interface between where you develop people and where you develop the economy as a whole.”

Engineers are a politically conservative bunch, so how was the culture shock, I ask?

Don’t talk to him about culture shock, he says. He went straight from Shell House to the former national department of education. Aveng was a cinch.

“One of the good things about engineers or people in this industry is that they’re very straight talkers,” he says. “That is something I took notice of, but I find it refreshing.”

His first celebratory lunch with one of his teams was at a pub.

“It wasn’t in a fancy restaurant somewhere. I think that’s refreshing.”

 

WHILE most 2010 Soccer World Cup stadium construction and upgrade projects in SA have overspent their budgets, training ground Orlando Stadium has kept within its R280m budget.

Construction IndustryCity of Johannesburg authorities said yesterday all the material for the stadium was bought long before the prices increased.

“We bought all the material in 2006 and kept it on site. What we couldn’t accommodate, like the roof, we found alternative storage space for,” said Deon Venter, the city’s official in the community development department.

Johannesburg mayor Amos Masondo said price increase projections were conducted even before contracts for the construction of the stadium were signed, as escalations were expected.

“There were interactions and engagements before the contracts were signed. We created the foundation to make sure that problems that happened elsewhere did not happen at Orlando.”

The stadium will be used as a training venue during the tournament. Its construction was 75% funded by the City of Johannesburg and 25% by the national government. It has been reported that the World Cup would cost the government R3bn more than the planned R9,8bn. Experts say this is because of increasing building material prices and general inflation.

Unlike at match venues across the country, construction had not been delayed at Orlando as there had been no labour disputes.

Disputed overtime payments and bonuses brought construction to a halt a number of times at the Mbombela stadium in Nelspruit, the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth, Greenpoint stadium in Cape Town, Peter Mokaba stadium in Polokwane and the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban. The City of Johannesburg said the first phase of the Orlando construction was 94% complete and that the entire facility would be completed in four months.

Councillor Ruby Mathang said labour disputes had not taken place because the building process was “people driven”.

“We sourced labour from across the entire Soweto area. We met community liaison officers and constantly had meetings with labour. The success was because people wanted to see this project succeed,” said Mathang.

 

Thursday, 22 May 2008 02:00

Esor thrives on building boom

Geotechnical engineering specialist Esor on Wednesday reported a threefold increase in revenue to R1bn for the year to February as it benefited from commercial and government infrastructure spend and a building upsurge in Angola and Mauritius.

Construction IndustryCEO Bernie Krone said today’s buoyant construction market was the primary driver for the group’s organic growth.

“The Gautrain continues to be a major contributor. We have R400m worth of work for the high- speed train which will be world class, with 14 months’ worth of work,” Krone said.

Of the R420m worth of projects secured, R170m was completed during the year.

“The Gautrain … is stimulating major development within the radius of its stations’ use areas, which will dramatically alter the urban landscape and further boost the construction industry beyond 2010.” The many new developments in the pipeline included high-rise offices, hotels and retail and commercial building projects.

The group has completed piling projects for Airports Company SA at the new King Shaka and Cape Town International Airports and contracts for piling, pedestrian culvert jacking and lateral support at OR Tambo International Airport.

Work on stadiums for the 2010 World Cup has been completed at Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban and Port Elizabeth Stadium.

Profit came in at R116m from R34m a year before.

Headline earnings per share jumped 240% to R115m, equating to 51,3c per share while net asset value per share increased 46% from 109,8c per share to 160,3c.

The group declared a final dividend of 20c per share for the year for a total of R49,6m.

Krone said the group was entrenching its presence in Africa, building on subsidiary Franki’s foothold in oil-rich Angola. Contracts for piling, lateral support and marine works projects were completed during the year.

Stringent cost control kept operating margins steady despite the negative effect on the group of unusually abundant December rains.

“We did see a slight decrease in margins in the final quarter of the year since excessive rain in Gauteng slowed down projects before and after our year-end break.

“However, a stricter focus on operational efficiencies and aggressive investment in plant helped keep margins on a par with last year,” Krone said.

Esor invested R147,5m in new equipment during the year.

Krone said the current year would be an acquisitive one, but the group would look only at companies that made good business sense and in the geotechnical engineering sector.

 

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