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2022 Presidential Address

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2022 President’s Address 2022 President’s Address

As my term as IMESA President rapidly comes to an end, I am reminded that one of my key mandates was to motivate for ethics to be made a compulsory part of the CPD cycle for registration with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), by requiring registered practitioners to attend an ethics presentation annually during their five-year registration cycle. I have presented the concept to ECSA and will continue to work for this as I firmly believe that engineers’ adherence to ethics is crucial to move forward with any success, especially in our municipal environment. Both civil and municipal engineers must stand together in ensuring that we live up to the Code of Conduct for Registered Persons in terms of the Engineering Professions Act (Act No. 46 of 2000).

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From IMESA’s perspective, our role is to assist and empower our members and to work within the three spheres of government to make municipal engineering processes and projects more efficient and effective. This is crucial for the successful implementation of South Africa’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, and the revitalisation of our construction industry. The disastrous floods earlier this year in KwaZulu-Natal highlighted this priority.

In terms of current and future spatial planning, we need more advanced research on extreme weather predictions along the lines of those countries that need to design and build for potential seismic activity in earthquake zones. Not easy, of course, given the extensive unpredictability of climate change impacts. But with the information we do have available, we can certainly construct far more robust structures.

As municipal engineers, we also need to urgently address the pressing issue of informal settlements within our towns and cities. These settlements occur wherever open land is available, irrespective of whether its above or below a known floodplain. It’s a potential disaster waiting to happen and can and should be prevented. Of equal importance is the regular updating of municipal asset management registers, with examples including transportation infrastructure and water/ sanitation networks. Preventative and predictive maintenance is a key factor in ensuring the current and future sustainability of the municipal landscape. IMESA Projects With Covid-19 restrictions now repealed completely, we can restart our training programme. IMESA technical courses are being planned for 2023 and the details will be shared with members as soon as the schedule is confirmed. The Small Coastal Storm Water Outlets guidelines can be downloaded from the knowledge base library on the IMESA website under Stormwater.

Guidance for local authorities regarding reclamation and reuse of water was identified as a priority in 2019 and IMESA was called on to support the development of guidelines in a project sponsored equally by the Water Research Council (WRC) and IMESA.

We are proud to announce that the Water Reclamation and Reuse Guide for South African Municipal Engineers was completed this year, and the final document was launched by the WRC on 1 September 2022. The guideline can be downloaded under Water in our knowledge base library. IMESA will present training workshops based on these guidelines, starting with a pre-conference workshop in Johannesburg on 1 November 2022 and then rolling out to Cape Town, Durban, Gqeberha and George in 2023.

The development of a best practice guideline for Design Flood Estimation in Municipal Areas in South Africa was also identified as a critical aspect for municipalities. This was initiated as a project by IMESA and co-funded by the WRC. The project has made good progress, and the guideline will be showcased at the Knowledge Bar at the 2022 IMESA Conference.

Strategic Liaisons

Engagements with external bodies were limited last year but IMESA has had valuable interactions with National Treasury, ECSA, SALGA, CESA, SAICE, the WRC and others this year.

Civil Engineers South Africa (CESA) – The Excellence Awards presented jointly by CESA and IMESA every second year could not be held in 2020 but submissions were called for and evaluated in 2021, with the winners being announced and presented at a special awards ceremony held in Cape Town in November 2021. A Memorandum of Understanding between IMESA and CESA was signed this year and we look forward to more interaction that benefits all our members.

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) – A full audit by ECSA of IMESA as a CPD-licensed body took place in July 2022. IMESA was commended for following the required protocols for the verification of CPD service providers and the accreditation of CPD activities. Further interaction will take place to ensure that IMESA keeps up to date on all relevant legislation and requirements.

At a meeting held in January 2022 with Mr Cox Mokgoro, acting CEO of ECSA, I explained my vision of ethics being made a compulsory component of CPD for engineers as an extension of the ECSA Code of Conduct.

South African Forum for Engineering (SAFE) – Several meetings have been held this year. The forum will continue as intended in its original MoU, as it is proving to be a valuable opportunity for professional bodies

representing a wider range of engineering disciplines to discuss issues legislation and regulations.

South African Local Government Association

(SALGA) – Although there have been fewer opportunities for interaction this year, IMESA has maintained contact with SALGA at a national level for support on communication with municipalities.

Water Research Commission (WRC) – IMESA has sponsored two projects in joint ventures with the Water Research Commission as described above. Work on both projects will be completed this year and will address critical issues in municipal engineering.

National Treasury – The efforts for professional bodies and other stakeholders to consolidate and prioritise their issues for National Treasury have achieved some positive outcomes but there are several supply chain management and interpretation of policy issues that have not been addressed yet or have been referred back to the municipalities. It might be more effective for IMESA to approach the representatives of National Treasury, CoGTA, CIDB, SALGA, MISA and SAICE that they have held meetings with previously.

International Federation of Municipal Engineers (IFME)

Between 22 and 24 June 2022, associations from around the world gathered in Rome for the International Federation of Municipal Engineering’s Annual Convention. This included IFME’s first of two board meetings for the year.

As the President of IMESA, I had the honour of representing South Africa at this convention, sharing key infrastructure challenges with municipal engineering counterparts from Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Presentations focused on ways to achieve a sustainable green transition within the urban context.

Key topics included the reimagining of sustainable urban spaces, smart mobility and asset management. The latter topic is especially important in managing and progressively upgrading ageing infrastructure, particularly water and sewer pipelines. Stemming non-revenue water losses remains a global concern, both from an environmental and financial perspective, so this is an aspect where a great deal of IFME knowledge sharing takes place. The second IFME board meeting, being hosted by IMESA, coincides with IMESA’s 85th Annual Conference in November 2022.

Exco and Council

This year sees the election of a new IMESA President as well as the Executive Committee and Council for the 2022-2024 period and I will be handing over as IMESA President to the capable hands of Mr Sibusiso Mjwara at the 2022 IMESA Conference opening function. I wish him well with taking IMESA forward and will be happy to support him during his tenure. The new Exco and Council members will no doubt also play their part in taking IMESA forward in our fast-changing world.

Membership and Branches

The last year has been difficult to navigate with Covid-19 again impacting on our annual conference, which had to be held online in 2021, and preventing many of our branches from holding their usual activities. Our Exco and head office staff have worked hard to keep IMESA’s finances in good order. There was a drop-off in membership, sadly indicating the tough times faced by many members, but it is encouraging to see many returning and new members rebuilding with IMESA this year.

At our Strategic Planning Meeting in March 2022, several priorities were identified regarding branches. The Free State/Northern Cape branch is to be re-established after the retirement/relocation of branch committee members. Branches are to be set up in neighbouring countries for IMESA to support their local municipalities and to bring in more members from the Southern African region. A Branch Chair Forum has been formed to discuss local issues, share lessons learnt and refer matters to Council.

We encourage members to get involved at the branches and to let us know how we can provide more technical development opportunities and assist members to conquer common engineering challenges. IMESA has branches covering the following regions: • Northern Provinces (Gauteng) • Free State/Northern Cape (Bloemfontein/Kimberley) • KwaZulu-Natal (Durban) • Border (East London) • Eastern Cape (Port Elizabeth) • Southern Cape/Karoo (George/Mossel Bay) • Western Cape (Cape Town) • SADC countries.

Between 22 and 24 June 2022, associations from around the world gathered in Rome for the International Federation of Municipal Engineering’s Annual Convention. This included IFME’s first of two board meetings for the year

Finances and Investments

The loss of income from not being able to hold the 2020 IMESA Conference and holding an online event for the 2021 IMESA Conference has required careful management. Thanks to the efforts of our Operations Director: Finance, with the support of Exco/Council and head office, the Institute continues to operate and maintain a secure financial position. Alternative income sources are being considered for future security when membership contributions and conference activities might not be sufficient.

Obituary

Sadly, we have noted the passing of several members: Barend Deminey, Corné Du Toit, Mansoer Mallick, Johan Abram Landman, Andries Lötz, and Giulio Gerald Govoni.

These members will all be remembered for their individual contributions to IMESA and will be commemorated at our AGM on Wednesday, 2 November 2022.

In Summary

This Conference is just one of the ways IMESA uses to promote excellence in engineering, not only through innovation and technology but also by supporting ethics and professionalism.

To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.”

We all know that South Africa has many challenges such as scarce water resources, high water loss, aged infrastructure, climate change and limited finances, to name a few. IMESA would like to create platforms that will assist the municipalities to resolve these challenges in the most efficient and cost-effective ways. To do that, we need the support of the various municipalities, their municipal managers and their respective mayors to meet with IMESA on the different platforms and to work together to resolve South African challenges.

Another IMESA priority is to support young engineers by providing training, workshops and mentoring, as well as encouraging them to uphold all professional engineering principles. They are our future engineers to support the municipalities and provide service delivery to South African citizens.

To end on a lighter note, I leave you with this quotation: “To the optimist, the glass is half full. To the pessimist, the glass is half empty. To the engineer, the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.”

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