Civil Designer Showcase

THE VUKUZAKHE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

Dheven Pillay is a 'hands-on' civil engineer who spends a large amount of his time project managing and designing roads and stormwater projects. In fact, you will rarely find Dheven in the office as he busies himself with site supervision and the mentoring initiatives that support emerging contractors. The Vukuzakhe Emerging Contractors Development Programme which was requested by the Department of Transport in KwaZulu-Natal is an initiative which lies close to his heart.

According to Dheven, 'Vukuzakhe' is a programme which focuses on wealth and job creation in communities that have been most disadvantaged historically. The initiative was piloted post 1994 as part of the Roads for Rural Development Programme and has resulted in more than one thousand contracts being awarded annually to emerging contractors.

Project Manager Dheven joined Makhaotse, Narasimulu & Associates (MNA) in 2007 and worked his way up the ranks to become a roads design specialist. Today he is the Manager of high level projects which are all detailed in Civil Designer. "I have been using the software since the days of Stardust and have watched it grow to become the powerful application it is today. I would definitely recommend it in an instant," explains Dheven, who is clearly an avid supporter of the program.

In addition to Dheven's obvious zest for Civil Designer, lies an in-born need to make a difference to the lives of impoverished communities. This need has seen fulfillment in the series of 'Vukuzakhe' projects which has resulted in the implementation of ventures like the P52 road upgrade and realignment. "I project manage various initiatives but find that it is the social engineering ones that are the most memorable."

"Government initiatives seem to be moving more in the direction of road resurfacing and the creation of formal roads in rural and township areas. This presents various opportunities for community involvement where social issues are addressed. It is only however when you interact with the various PLC committees that you gain a true understanding of the harsh conditions that people live under," notes Dheven.

The P52 roads upgrade project was handled in a joint consortium and required the resurfacing and realignment of 28 kilometres of road. "The project started in 2006 with various contractors commissioned to handle certain aspects of the project. This allowed larger contractors who handled the bulk earthworks to receive job creation opportunities but also allowed smaller contractors who handled the side drains or gabions to benefit."
  "The road which was previously a 60km/h speed has since been upgraded to an 80km/h speed. The feedback from the site meetings has also revealed that the upgrade has since contributed positively to communities," explains Dheven, adding that it was an extremely gratifying experience to teach some of the smaller contractors how to perform basic skills like the calculation of rates and measurements.

It is clear that Dheven loves his job and is committed to the future of the civil engineering profession. He sees the many long hours on site checking quality levels whilst imparting knowledge as an important investment and fully backs any social upliftment initiative. "The Emerging Contractor Programme is a 4 staged advancement programme which facilitates the growth and development of small businesses."

"Each stage of advancement is characterized by higher levels of risk to the contractor and the removal of support mechanisms by the Department. The staged advancement programme is also designed to effectively remove barriers that prevent the full participation of emerging contractors in the road construction industry. I think this initiative is truly amazing," says Dheven approvingly.

Despite Dheven's hectic work life where travel and site visits take up the bulk of his time, he remains an energetic enthusiast. When asked about his future plans he replies candidly: "I hope to progress to associate level and eventually become a partner of the firm. I also want to learn as much as I can and continue to make a difference wherever possible." The drive, conviction and commitment of this dynamic civil engineer are the core ingredients that will ensure a bright and prosperous future ahead.

image Dheven Pillay is the Project Manager at Makhaotse, Narasimulu & Associates (MNA). He completed his Civil Engineering diploma at the then Eastern Cape Technikon and acquired extensive practical experience at SNA Consulting Engineers where he worked for 8 years. Dheven joined NMA in 2007 and says that he is particularly impressed with the organization's level of commitment towards staff development.

 
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