Wednesday, 12 March 2008 02:00

Civil engineering powers ahead

While the residential and nonresidential construction market is heading for slow growth this year because of higher interest rates, the civil construction sector is expected to grow 33%.

Construction IndustryLocal construction companies stand to benefit from the boom that is expected to carry on until at least 2015, influenced largely by governmental infrastructure spending of R560bn over the next three years.

Coupled with this is Eskom’s R1-trillion budget to build power stations, Transnet’s building of railway lines, ports and fuel pipelines, and private sector expansion programmes.

Strong demand and rising commodity prices are also driving expansion in the mining sector, which will benefit the construction sector.

According to Reserve Bank data, the value of construction works reached an estimated R46bn last year, a 32% increase in real terms from R34,7bn in 2006.

South African Federation of Civil Engineering Contractors (Safcec) economist Pierre Blaauw says the estimate is an annualised figure, with the final number due at the end of this month. “Turnover this high was last seen during the construction boom in the 1970s, when the industry recorded a figure breaching the R40bn mark for the first time,” Blaauw says.

“Safcec’s numbers indicate growth between 25% and 30% for the civil engineering industry alone last year.”

He says the good news is that spending on the government's R560bn infrastructure budget started only last year and that this year and next should see further growth for the industry.

“We expect a 13%-16% increase in civil engineering industry turnover this year. It may sound small compared to last year’s record number, but this comes off a higher base,” he says.

Despite challenging macro economic conditions, infrastructure spending is steaming ahead, which bodes well for the industry, which has experienced 80% growth in turnover since 2004.

Blaauw says infrastructure spending is a prerequisite to maintain economic growth.

Blaauw says the biggest challenge the civil engineering industry will face this year will be capacity constraints. Companies will need to increase their capacity by acquiring new capital assets, locating and securing the necessary skills, buying up smaller firms, and expanding their education and training budgets.

Most big construction companies are already at work on projects such as the Gautrain, stadiums, and upgrading of airports and ports.

The likes of Murray & Roberts, Aveng and Group Five are either part of infrastructure development programmes or are bidding with international groups to build power stations and big projects.

Cadiz African Harvest portfolio manager Rajay Ambekar says gross fixed capital formation had peaked at about 30% in 1976 but has since been coming down to the current 15% of gross domestic product (GDP). “The target is 25% of GDP,” Ambekar says.

International construction companies are partnering with local companies that are unable to cope with the load and lack expertise, especially for big projects. “No South African company can build a power station on its own. A lot of civil construction would be done by local companies while technical expertise is brought by international companies,” Ambekar says.

However, he says there is a risk of delays that are outside companies’ control, which could be costly. Blaauw agrees, saying there will be more supply-side constraints than demand-side constraints.

According to Statistics SA, the construction industry showed the biggest jump of all economic sectors in acquiring capital assets from 2005 to 2006, recording a 73% increase. Salaries and wages rose 16,6%. Blaauw says it is likely the industry will have doubled in size between 2004 and next year. .

In 2006 there were four large international construction firms registered with the Construction Industry Development Board, rising to 11 last year.

“We are likely to see a further increase in competition from abroad over the next two to three years, as well as from smaller companies growing into larger firms able to compete for bigger contracts.”

 

Despite rand weakness, inflation moving upwards and SA’s electricity crunch, the government will forge ahead with its infrastructure development programme

Monday, 21 January 2008 02:00

Cape Town port upgrade begins

Transnet port terminals has started work on a R4,2bn construction programme to nearly double the capacity at the Cape Town container terminal by 2012

Wednesday, 04 July 2007 02:00

Group Five wins R1,8 billion contract

Construction company Group Five has won a R1,8-billion contract from Transnet to widen Durban's existing harbour by 100m and to increase the depth by 6m.

Mike UptonWorking with Belgian company, Dredging International, Group Five Civil Engineering is responsible for the civil portion of the contract, valued at R1,1 billion.

Transnet group chief executive Maria Ramos last week announced the state-owned enterprise's plans to spend R78 billion on expanding South Africa's rail, port and fuel pipeline infrastructure over the next five years and this amount is likely to grow as more projects get the go-ahead.

Group Five's managing director of the civil engineering operations, Andrew McJannet said: "We are very pleased with this contract, which was won against international competition. We believe our previous marine civils experience, such as the Moma Jetty in Mozambique and the dry bulk terminal jetty in Richards Bay, played a role in us being the winning bidder."

Group Five's partner on the project, Dredging International, has dispatched a hi-tech dredger capable of moving 5000m of rock and silt an hour from Belgium to achieve the 7-million cubic metres that will be moved over the next two years.

"This is the third major contract in Kwazulu-Natal awarded to the group since the beginning of 2007. We have already started on the 2010 Durban soccer stadium, in consortium with WBHO and Pandev, and have signed the contract for the R6,8 billion King Shaka Airport, in which Group Five is the lead contractor for the Ilembe Consortium - which includes WBHO and the KZN Empowerment Group," said Group Five's chief executive officer Mike Upton.

Work on the harbour has started, with the demolition of existing land structures and the establishment of a pre-cast concrete yard close to the site where the blocks required for the contract will be cast.

The contract is due for completion in May 2010

 

The revival of Johannesburg’s inner city has seen an escalation in the value of property, making it more difficult for government and non profit organisations to provide much needed social housing for low-income earners.

A coastal development project which forms part of a R116m facelift planned for c's coast is on track

Friday, 20 October 2006 02:00

Building up a storm

Almost R300bn in new capital projects could be announced this year - SA's highest level ever - if the trend in the first half of 2006 continues for the remainder of the year.

SHARES in the construction sector have soared over the past two months, buoyed by foreign investor optimism on the prospects for SA’s infrastructure development.

Thursday, 07 July 2005 02:00

Infrastructure boom for SA?

Major capex projects to be good for listed companies

Tuesday, 07 June 2005 02:00

Dramatic rise in infrastructure seen

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel is expecting to see a 'dramatic' rise in infrastructure projects, financed and implemented by public-private partnerships

Page 5 of 6

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