Among the 3 directors, 10 chief engineers, 6 regional engineers and 4 engineers of roads employed by the provincial Department of Police, Roads and Transport in the Free State there is, as far as the DA can establish, only a single fully qualified engineer registered with the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA).
Of the directors dealing with roads at the department, only one is registered with the ECSA as a “professional engineering technologist”.
Eight of the chief engineers are registered at the ECSA as a “candidate engineering technicians” or “-technologists”. The other 2 cannot be found on the database. Three of these individuals do not hold any form of an engineering degree and at most hold diplomas.
The situation is not much better among the regional engineers and engineers. Among the regional engineers, only 2 of the 6 are registered at the ECSA, also as “candidate engineering technicians” or “- technologists”. Two hold no engineering related qualification higher than a diploma. Of the 4 engineers, 3 are registered as either a “candidate engineering technician” or “-technologist”, the other 2 are not registered with the ECSA.
The ECSA is a statutory body in terms of the Engineering Profession Act (EPA) 46/2000 which regulates the profession. Although registration is not mandatory, not being registered limits the scope of work an engineer may perform, including not being able to sign off on engineering projects and having to work under the supervision of a professionally registered engineer. Insurance companies usually also don’t pay claims where the engineer is not registered with the ECSA.
The Free State department last year advertised the senior post of Chief Director: Roads, responsible for managing road planning and design as well as managing the implementation of roads infrastructure projects at a salary of R1 251 183 per year. The only qualification requirement was an “appropriate degree (NQF7)”, and 5 years experience in senior management.
The DA’s Western Cape government, by contrast, requires of all engineers within its department to have upon applying a civil engineering degree (B Eng / BSC (Eng)) or relevant qualification, a minimum of 3 years post qualification experience and compulsory registration with ECSA as a professional engineer.
The DA understands that well-maintained provincial roads can save lives and grow the economy. Where we govern, we set higher standards for civil servants, because we care about service delivery. That, as well as financial discipline and respect for taxpayers’ money, explains why the roads in the DA run Western Cape are the best maintained and safest in the country.
The DA will engage the Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, to enquire why a minimum standard of professionalism and qualification for road engineers is not implemented nationally. There is no shortage of engineers in this country seeking employment. Their skills are now needed more than ever. Where skills lack, bursaries can be given by the provincial department to deserving candidates who work hard to obtain their qualification and they can be employed once fully qualified. We can never compromise on the safety of road users.