Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi has appealed to role players in the construction industry to bring their expertise to the fore to help the country achieve the goals set out in government's ambitious, mega infrastructure plan.
"We need technical professionals... We need experience... The industry won't triumph unless the department is in shape," said the minister on Wednesday at the National Stakeholder Forum of the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
Referring to the State of the Nation Address delivered earlier this year by President Jacob Zuma, where the major infrastructure programme was unveiled, Nxesi said to aid the success of the programme, they needed professionals from the construction sector.
He acknowledged that the department lacked experts in the construction field such as architects and land surveyors.
Government is on target with regards to turning South Africa into a "huge construction site", with a good number of Strategic Infrastructure Projects (Sips) having been launched since the beginning of the year.
A meeting was held at the end of May to discuss the sixth Sip project (Sip 6): Integrated Municipal Infrastructure. At the time, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel said Sip 6 came about after gaps and weaknesses in the implementation of basic infrastructure were noted by government.
The massive infrastructure development plan lists17 Sips that cut across rail, road, schools and hospitals construction.Issue of late payments to be addressed
Nxesi said in order for the construction industry to get on board, the department had to be committed to help them address the challenges they faced, including the issue of late payments.
He said through the department's turnaround strategy, they were hopeful they would resolve the challenges that lead to non-delivery to the industry.
Government had committed major funds to the infrastructure plan with great opportunities available, which could only be maximised if Public Works was in shape, noted Nxesi, who is also part of the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC).
The roll-out of the infrastructure programme will help in skills development, transformation as well as assist emerging entrepreneurs.
Corruption also needed to be dealt with if the plan were to be successfully implemented.
"Years of poor management have provided fertile terrain for corruption," said the minister, adding that his department had for seven years received qualified audits.
The department would also look at the issue of projects not being awarded to small contractors.
The participation of women in the construction sector, late payments to industry, procurement processes and job creation were some of the issues discussed at the forum.
The CIDB National Stakeholder Forum comprises construction industry bodies, associations, industry experts and public sector clients.
Later this year, the department will host a summit for the construction industry.