Western Cape Business News

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INFRASTRUCTURE: Cape Cooling Off, But Confident


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IMPORTANT infrastructural developments that require millions of rands to be spent in the Western Cape are progressing to help meet demands for the next economic up-turn.

Developments that are currently underway include major quarry expansions, improvements to harbour facilities, a boost in power generation, and infrastructural development for townships for low-cost housing projects.

Discussing work in progress and prospects, Chris Dalgliesh – principal environmental consultant, and John Brown – principal geotechnical consultant, both partners in the Cape Town office of SRK Consulting, say while they are busy with major infrastructural projects in the Western Cape, they are also involved in projects in the mining sector in SADC countries north of the South African border.

SRK Consulting is a South African founded global group of consulting engineers and scientists to the natural resource industries.

Dalgliesh says SRK is preparing environmental management frameworks for the City of Cape Town, which will assist with metropolitan planning and the identification of available land for sustainable development. Another project, requiring SRK’s services, is the proposed redevelopment of the old Athlone Power Station for alternative use.

He notes that harbours on the West coast of the Western Cape are positioning themselves as service hubs for the West African oil and gas sector and that a number of projects are still on track. SRK continues to work in this sector, which frequently involves co-ordinating the work of sub-contractors contributing to Environmental Impact Assessments managed by SRK.

A major power generation project in the Western and Eastern Cape, using nuclear energy, is a challenging project in which the Cape Town office is widely involved,” says Dalgliesh. “We are busy with site assessments and other scientific and engineering studies that are typically undertaken by SRK. We are co-ordinating a huge suite of reports that cover a variety of aspects for the client. There are probably about 20 different studies being undertaken on three sites, making use of additional experts where necessary and international peer reviews.” Commenting on construction, Brown says there has been a wane in private sector projects, which generally required foundation investigations for commercial buildings and up-market housing developments. However, infrastructural development work financed by government that includes the upgrading of sewage treatment plants, is continuing.

There are also large studies being undertaken around quarry expansion planning, in preparation for the next up-swing. These are longer-term geotechnical studies, involving slope stability assessments,” says Brown.

Although there is a downturn in the wide economy, the Cape Town office of SRK has a reasonable order book, with some departments still at full steam and the outlook for this year looks pretty good,” says Dalgliesh. “Of course, the downturn is a reality; things are tighter this year and we are benefiting by adopting a more flexible approach and have diversified our service offering.”

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