Efforts to improve the quality of construction in the housing sector: briefing by Department of Public Works & Construction Industry Development Board

NCOP Public Services

17 February 2014
Chairperson: Mr M Sibande (ANC; Mpumalanga)
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Meeting Summary

The Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) briefed the Committee on the efforts which were being made to improve the quality of construction on the housing sector. Department of Public Works (DPW) was also invited to provide some guidance. The presentation by the CIDB was led by Mr Rodney Milford, the Programme Manager at the CIDB.

The CIDB’s mandate, together with its legislative framework and focus were outlined.

The CIDB cited some of the barriers to construction quality in the housing sector to be as follows: poor site management, corruption, inadequate resourcing by contractors, a lack of understanding of quality and the lack of quality expertise among contractors. The CIDB however was in collaboration with various stakeholder such as the National Treasury and the National Homebuilder Registration Council (NHBRC) and the in an attempt to improve quality. In order to establish the necessary mentoring capacity for contractors, the CIDB was in collaboration with the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP).

Members were not pleased with the presentation because the content of the presentation was not relevant to the Select Committee, which was interested in the work done in developing provinces. The presentation by the CIDB gave an overall view and gave no specific detail on the work of the entity at provincial level. Some of the questions raised by Members were: how did the CIDB monitor the work of contractors provincially? What work did the CIDB do in provinces to train and empower previously disadvantaged communities so as to eliminate barriers to entry into the CIDB? How was it ensured that rural communities acquired the necessary skills? Given the extent of corruption within government, how many contractors did the CIDB blacklist per province? How was clean governance ensured? What progress was made regarding development and the opening up of CIDB offices per province? What financial assistance was made available to these emerging contractors? How were issues such as demographics taken into account with regards to employment equity? The shortage of artisans had been highlighted as a serious concern; what had the CIDB done to address this shortage?

The Committee invited the CIDB to come back and make a more relevant presentation to the Committee where matters such as women and youth empowerment, education, local skills development and provincial development were highlighted. The CIDB would be providing a joint presentation with the NHBRC.
 

Meeting report

Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed Members to the meeting, together with the delegation from the Department of Public Works (DPW) and representatives from the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
The Chairperson welcomed the joint presentation on efforts to improve the quality of construction in the housing sector.

Briefing by CIDB
Mr Mzwandile Sokupa, Chief Executive Officer, CIDB, thanked the Committee for the invitation and began by introducing representatives from both the DPW and the CIDB.

Mr Rodney Milford, Programme Manager: construction Industry Performance, CIDB, thanked Mr Sokupa for the opening remarks and began with the presentation. The overview of the presentation would cover the CIDB legislative framework and mandate, quality in construction and conclude with the CIDB programme structure.

CIDB Legislative Framework
Mr Milford explained that the White Paper for the DPW, 1999 created the enabling environment for the reconstruction, growth and development of the construction industry. The CIDB Act, Act 59 of 2000 provided for the establishment of the CIDB and for the implementation of an integrated strategy for the reconstruction, growth and development of the construction industry.

CIDB Mandate
The mandate of the CIDB was to:

Provide strategic leadership
Promote sustainable growth and participation of the emerging sector
Promote improved performance and best practice
Promote uniform application of policy and improved procurement and delivery management
Monitor and regulate the performance of the industry and its stakeholders, including the registration of projects and contractors

CIDB Act & Mandate
Mr Milford said the Act was established to promote best practice through the development and implementation of appropriate programmes and measures aimed at best practice. The Act also looked to improve the performance of public and private sector clients, contractors and other participants in the construction delivery process. In addition, the Act sought to establish a national register of contractors which categorised contractors in a manner which facilitated public sector procurement and promoted contractor development.

With regard to regulations, the Act stipulated that any contractor who was a registered homebuilder was exempt from registration for the purpose of construction work. Homebuilders were therefore not required to register with the CIDB.

Quality in Construction
Mr Milford said the barriers to construction quality included:

Poor site management
Lack of contractor quality expertise
Corruption
Inadequate resourcing by contractors
Lack of understanding of quality
Level of sub-contracting
Inadequate information
Poor constructability

Mr Milford concluded that the CIDB was collaborating with National Treasury on building procurement capacity in national and provincial departments. The CIDB and the National Homebuilder Registration Council (NHBRC) would consider encouraging clients to require CIDB registered contractors before homebuilding. The CIDB was working in collaboration with the NHBRC to share knowledge and systems for the improvement of quality. The CIDB was also collaborating with the built environment professionals to enhance focus on contractor development. In addition, the CIDB was collaborating with the South African Council for Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) to establish the necessary mentoring capacity for contractors.

Discussion
The Chairperson thanked the CIDB for the presentation. He reminded Members that Mr O De Beer (COPE; Western Cape) was still in hospital and suggested that the Committee pay him a visit because it had been a while since he was admitted.

Ms M Themba (ANC; Mpumalanga) also thanked the CIDB. She said the information presented was not what the Committee was expecting. As a Select Committee, Members were interested in receiving information which outlined the work the CIDB was doing in each province. For example, how did the CIDB monitor the work of contractors provincially? What work did the CIDB do in provinces to train and empower previously disadvantaged communities so as to eliminate barriers to entry into the construction sector? How was it ensured that rural communities acquired the necessary skills? Given the extent of corruption within government, how many contractors did the CIDB blacklist per province? How was clean governance ensured? With regard to the training of emerging contractors; what work was being done per province, especially in rural areas? What progress was made regarding development and the opening up of CIDB offices per province? How were communities being informed of the work of the CIDB? How were issues such as language differences incorporated into educating and empowering disadvantaged communities?

Mr Z Mlenzane (COPE; Eastern Cape) agreed with Ms Themba. The way in which the presentation was not structured did not appeal to the work of the Committee or its expectations. He also raised a concern about the robust training of contractors from previously disadvantaged background; what financial assistance was made available to these emerging contractors? How were issues such as demographics taken into account with regards to employment equity? The shortage of artisans had been highlighted as a serious concern; what had the CIDB done to address this shortage?

Mr H Groenewald (DA; North West) thanked the CIDB for the presentation. He asked whether there were CIDB offices in all provinces and how many people were employed to monitor CIDB projects across the province? What measures were in place to ensure quality performance and how did the CIDB test the quality of buildings? How were the levels of satisfaction measured among the new home owners? How was the registration of contractors being monitored?

Ms Themba asked about the number of women in the construction/building field per province, together with the levels of youth within the sector.

The Chairperson agreed with Members that the presentation was not practical. He suggested that the NHBRC needed to be invited the next time the CIDB gave a presentation to the Committee so that Members could have an overall understanding of the progress being made from both sides as well as a clearer understanding of how the two mandates differed. How were new contractors assisted in ensuring quality work during construction?

Mr Mfezeko Gwazube, Deputy Director-General: Projects, DPW replied and accepted the liability for not providing guidance to the CIDB with regards to the structure and content of the presentation. The CIDB however was not his portfolio. He was responsible for projects within the DPW and was simply asked to assist. The DPW would nonetheless be providing all the required details pertaining to provinces. He acknowledged the questions asked but argued that not all questions were relevant to the mandate of the CIDB.

The Chairperson said the Committee did not need “education” from Mr Gwazube, instead the DPW together with the CIDB needed to focus on responding to the questions raised.

Mr Gwazube replied that his response was not meant to educate the Committee or to disrespect Members in any way. However it was his responsibility to explain what the CIDB could and could not do. The CIDB was not an implementing agent. It was a regulatory body which monitored and evaluated the industry. The functions of the CIDB were therefore not too far off from those of the Auditor-General in terms of monitoring and recommendation instructions to implementing agents.

Ms Themba asked that Mr Gwazube allow the CIDB respond to the questions which were posed to the CIDB. She reiterated that the Committee was not looking for Mr Gwazube to “educate” Members.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Themba. He argued that the DPW had failed to comply with the Committee’s initial requirements. The Committee had requested that the DPW send a team which was representative with regards to gender; instead the team was only comprised of men.

Mr Sokupa thanked the Committee for the engagement with the presentation. He said the CIDB had noted the Committee’s guidance with regards to gender representation. In the context of housing development, huge amounts of money had been spent on repairing poor quality houses, and that was a serious concern. The CIDB itself was all-encompassing of the construction industry, but the NHBRC was a body which dealt specifically with matters pertaining to housing. He agreed that a single sitting of both entities was necessary so that there could be a clear distinction between the two and the Committee could direct the relevant questions to the relevant body. The presence of the CIDB in all the provinces was a very major issue in terms of the NCOP structure, and there were offices in all nine provinces. The CIDB was therefore working closely with the DPW and CIDB offices were set up in DPW premises in eight provinces. In Mpumalanga, where office space could not be provided by the DPW, the Department had offered to rent outside office space for the CIDB.

Geographically he argued that some of the provinces such as the Eastern Cape were very wide, therefore the CIDB was exploring the option of having a satellite presence in remote communities. With regard to the assistance that the CIDB offered to provinces he said the entity worked very closely with the all provincial departments and municipalities, so that the best practises were mainstreamed in the procurement processes so as to raise the bar with regards to quality. He apologised that the CIDB together with Mr Gwazube focused on quality and ignored the other aspects which Members were now raising during the question and answer session. The mandate which the CIDB was given was focusing on quality but perhaps a wider focus should have been given. He said Mr Milford had a presentation which showed the representation of women, youth and race in terms of development within the CIDB. The information was however not included here because of the brief which the CIDB had received. He asked that Mr Milford touch briefly on the information. The full presentation would be forwarded to the Committee.

Mr Sokupa further stated that the CIDB had programmes which targeted school going children to make sure that High School learners in particular were made aware of the construction industry, in order to make it a more attractive profession, especially in previously disadvantaged communities. The CIDB also held provincial stakeholder liaison meetings which called on all stakeholders. Members of Parliament were also invited to provide inputs around the emerging sector of contractors. At a national level, various stakeholders were also invited to provide input.

Mr Milford apologised that the CIDB did not structure the presentation in a way which was pleasing to the Committee. He asked that the CIDB be given an opportunity to come back and give a proper presentation to the Committee. With regard to the provinces the CIDB provided a quarterly report where a whole range of statistics was looked at; such as the number of black contractors and the number of women contractors for example. This information provided the CIDB with guidance on how to target intervention in the various provinces. This information would be provided to the Committee in detail.

The Chairperson accepted the proposal that the relevant information would be made available to the Committee. He asked about the CIDB’s best practise scheme and whether it had since been implemented. Where there any measure in place to deal with the institutional barriers such as poor skills and lack of competence of those involved in construction procurement? Where there any systems in place to monitor and evaluate the rollout of CIDB requirements for human resource management?

Mr Milford replied that the phasing in and the rollout of the best practises rollout were behind schedule, but subject to the implementation assessment the CIDB was hoping to roll them out this year (2014). Fundamentally the components had been gazetted but were not yet implemented. On the question around skills development and the procurement of resources, he responded and said the CIDB was establishing competence standards for procurement officials. A training course had been established with the University of Pretoria and would be rollout nationally; so far 40 officials had been trained around these competency standards.  All construction officials were therefore required to achieve this NQF qualification standard. In addition, the monitoring of human resource development would be done through the best practise projects assessments which would be monitored through the Skills Development Agency. Any learner which participated in training would be monitored through these assessments.

The Chairperson thanked the CIDB for the presentation. He suggested that the CIDB come back with the NHBRC to give a more detailed presentation to the Committee. The key fundamental challenge for the Committee were around who was responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of quality within the construction industry. The Committee still had a lot of questions.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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