Improved planning and engineering will answer social challenges in SA – Manuel

13 November 2017

Unless South Africa and its citizens deal with the issue of widespread corruption, the country will not be able to provide the “kinds of engineering services” that it ought to provide to people, former Finance Minister and Minister in the Presidency Trevor Manuel has said.

Speaking at a SAICE Young Members leadership event on Friday, Manuel noted that the country was still facing many social challenges that stemmed from a lack of proper planning and engineering. “Transport engineering hasn’t found its proper place,” he stated, noting that areas such as Soweto and Lanseria were still “far away” from the business districts of Gauteng.

“We can’t keep building further. If we build further south than Orange Farm, we’re going to be in the Free State,” he noted, adding that, in other major metropolitans across the world, such as New York and Mumbai, the density figures were much higher, at 9 600 people per square kilometre and 32 814 people per square kilometre, respectively.

In contrast, the Western Cape’s density stood at 1 293 people per square kilometre. Yet, South Africa was facing significant water and landfill issues, which Manuel said could be solved through innovative civil engineering.

“There are so many landfill sites around Johannesburg and Tshwane where there are huge problems. There’s seepage, there’s smell, there’s the inability to manage what goes into landfill and there is the fact that we are quite a noncompliant society,” he pointed out.

“Water is the biggest challenge for every engineer. I can’t for the life of me see why we haven’t been smarter about filtering acid mine drainage. There’s a large source of water,”.  

Meanwhile, on the issue of ongoing mistrust between government and the private sector, Manuel pointed out that the uncovered collusion that took place during the building of the stadiums for the FIFA World Cup, in 2010, was contributing to these issues.

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