Quantity Surveyors are aiming to play a crucial role in getting “frozen” infrastructure development projects back on track. “Municipal managers and classically trained accountants are currently expected to deliver complex projects,” says Larry Feinberg, Executive Director of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS). “Not only is this expectation unfair on them without them having received the proper training; it’s also part of the reason why some large infrastructure development projects have been suspended or have ground to a halt.”
According to Feinberg the ASAQS has been in talks with senior government officials and other industry bodies to create solutions that can assist with training and professional support to those charged with delivering these projects.
“Training on the use of standards documentation is but one of the areas where Professional Quantity Surveyors can be of assistance,” explains Feinberg. “Deploying Professional Quantity Surveyors to upper echelons in government is one of the mechanisms that can be used to good effect to educate officials on good governance in procurement, bidding and tendering processes, and the complex process of managing the construction process from a cost control point of view.”
The “Send Me” call made by President Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation address earlier this year has resonated with many and sparked collaborative action across many economic sectors. Feinberg hopes that this call can be used as a basis for professionals in the built environment to bridge focus areas that traditionally operate in and create solutions that serve the best interest of the public and the fiscus.
“Our interactions on several discussion platforms are focused on how to bridge the gap between what Thuma Mina means for the public sector and how our members can assist,” says Feinberg. The ASAQS has consistently promoted the role of a Quantity Surveyors as one that plays a significant part in curbing instances of fraud and wasteful expenditure.
“The time for behaviours that – intentionally or unintentionally – resist collaboration is over,” says Feinberg. “It is now time for all of us to share knowledge and expertise, so we can collectively respond to the President’s call.”
The report of irregular expenditure on the on Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Brandfort is concerning, but commonplace. The Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) says this will only change if the right mix of professionals are appointed at the tender phase of infrastructure projects.
The report by News24 states that “the quantity surveyor's report found fruitless expenditure of R593 622 "with regard to the Winnie Mandela House Project".”
“The appointment of a Quantity Surveyor to calculate and oversee projects should not be an afterthought when budget allows,” warns Larry Feinberg, Executive Director of the ASAQS. “We strongly recommend that the appointment of a Professional Quantity Surveyor becomes part of the legislated tender process.”
A Quantity Surveyor (QS) is best placed to identify deviations from original tenders in terms of both scope and pricing. As such, they act as the client’s watchdog. In the case of public projects, the client is ultimately the taxpayer.
One of the key issues in any public project is to ensure that the tender is awarded to the right contractor at the right price. The training undertaken by Quantity Surveyors allows them to manage the financial and legal processes of a project.
“Professional QSs are also bound by a code of conduct,” explains Feinberg. “If they are found to have contravened the code, they will lose their licence to practice as a QS.”
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