BCCEI rallying all construction stakeholders to curb mafia groups
28TH NOVEMBER 2022
BY: MARLENY ARNOLDI
CREAMER MEDIA ONLINE WRITER
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To curb the “construction mafia” that continues to run rampant in South Africa, stakeholders have increasingly been working together to roll back this scourge, the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) reports.
The council is one of the stakeholders that is helping to ensure civil engineering projects can proceed without criminal disruption, especially as government’s infrastructure spending may ramp up in coming years.
The construction sector has faced years of increasing intimidation, theft and violence on large and small construction sites around the country; however, this year has seen BCCEI develop and implement an action plan to serve its members, which involves collaboration among public sector organisations, business groups, employers and employees.
The plan is focused on making work sites safe and productive again, says BCCEI operations manager Lindie Fourie, highlighting that civil engineering contractors have been prioritising the safety of their staff and contractual obligations to clients, as many sites have been forced to meet criminal demands or face life-threatening consequences.
She explains the situation is so serious in some areas that workers and employees are too scared to report the criminals to the police, for fear of reprisal. In turn, the police cannot act without a docket.
“With our new communication channels, we are exploring ways that incidents can be reported without jeopardising people’s safety,” Fourie notes.
The BCCEI action plan dovetails with other national initiatives to rescue the economy from construction mafias and other criminal activity, including the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure’s Anti-Corruption Forum.
The BCCEI says its work has opened the door to collaboration with policing authorities, local government and other business bodies that are fighting crime.
Fourie says the council has onboarded many willing stakeholders in the last year, however, it is still early days and much more needs to be done.
“We are developing a platform where people can raise their concerns and be provided with guidance on how to address the issues,” Fourie states.
Moreover, she says the council has taken steps to prevent the criminal disruption of sites, not just respond after the event. The work of the BCCEI, therefore, includes plans and procedures for contractors to engage with local and other stakeholders before a construction project is started.
Fourie explains that these interventions help to educate the community and alert the relevant local roleplayers of possible risks, so that these can be avoided by timeous action.