While South Africa is under the spotlight in terms of its investment status among rating agencies, it is public property that plays an important role in the total investment value of a country, as well as driving a positive sentiment. The onus is on our public works department to ensure that infrastructure is maintained to the high standards that our country, and indeed the world, demands. The centre of Cape Town has become one of the country’s leading tourism hot spots and the buildings need to look the part as international visitors and investors stream through our city.
One of the more prominent buildings in the city is 27 Wales Street, occupied by various government departments and private enterprise. The Department of Transport and Public Works recently commissioned painting, waterproofing and construction company, Indawo, to undertake a complete redecoration of the building. This included waterproofing, painting, structural and spalling repairs and external redecoration.
Indawo group managing director, Geoffrey Jäck, says that the project was one of the largest projects undertaken by Indawo.“Significant challenges faced construction work from the beginning as the building is in the centre of a busy city. External construction work, where the public is in close proximity to the works, poses significant risks, not only to the public, but to workers as well. The constant flow of traffic, a hindrance on any normal day, becomes a difficult daily obstacle as construction vehicles have to enter and exit into busy streets”.
The protection of pedestrians, motorists, visitors to the building and both the building and construction site staff is taken very seriously. All safety aspects demanded of a project of this magnitude was managed by health and safety consultants, Ingozi Management Safety and Health Consultants.
Jäck says, “The City of Cape Town is totally committed to the maintenance of a great city and the upkeep of its infrastructure is of prime importance to the city’s planning. This ensures the city’s property values remain on an upward trend in line with return on investment targets. Cape Town’s geographical positioning also means that local government needs a slightly more robust approach to infrastructure maintenance due to the harsh climate of the Western Cape. High winds and persistent winter rains during cold spells batter the outer structures of buildings, testing even the toughest exterior surfaces.”
Maintenance work on taller buildings also carry a fair risk considering the wind factor in Cape Town. Careful and meticulous planning is required for scaffolding positioning throughout the project, while safety plays a major role in the protection of workers at heights. Strong winds can easily blow a worker off scaffolding.
Cape Town, being a tourist-centric and cosmopolitan metropolis, relies on its aesthetics as much as its consumer offering. This drives the need to ensure maintenance programmes are adhered to by building owners across all industries. Government owned buildings, especially exude the pride of the city and what they look like reflects the positivity of the country, not just the local municipality.
Jäck concludes by saying that construction and redecoration work on prominent buildings takes on a whole new meaning in a city like Cape Town. “Our site staff become the face of not only our company, but also of the city and country. This puts added pressure on contractors and reminds them of the importance of their role in developing and maintaining a great, internationally-recognised city.”