Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  29 Oct 2008

ENGINEERING: Think Again About Licensing


Recent Western Cape Business News

THE Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the Government must think again about its new plans to licence engineers, architects and other professionals working in the “built environment”.

In terms of a Bill that will go before the Council of Provinces next month a “super council” run by the Minister of Public Works would make the licensing decisions.

Gerald Wolman, President of the Chamber said the country was just starting one of the biggest infrastructure development programmes in its history and this was not the time to introduce a new system that could erode the standard and the value of technical qualifications.

He said engineering was an exact science and setting the standards should be left to qualified professionals and not to politicians or other non-scientists.

The Eskom crisis had shown that the cost of not maintaining proper technical standards was enormous. “After the Koeberg bolt incident the National Energy Regulator found that Eskom had been negligent and had failed to adhere to licence conditions. It got even worse when Eskom proved unable to supply its power stations with sufficient coal to keep the lights on and the mines operating.

“I believe that at the heart of this crisis were non-technical people overruling the engineers on maintenance programmes and other matters. We also had the Government overruling the technical reports from Eskom calling for an increase in generating capacity.”

Wolman said it was now clear that these mistakes would cost the country many billions of rands.

Another example was the way in which the tried and trusted apprentice system had been pushed aside in favour of learnerships. The result had been a shocking decline in the number of artisans in the workplace and this, too, was costing the country dearly.

“I’m afraid politicians have a very bad record when it comes to decisions on matters of science and technology and there is no reason to believe that this is about to change.”

 He said the Chamber believed that there was little or no room for compromise when dealing with the hard sciences and only qualified, experienced professionals were in a position to set the standards.

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