Civil Designer Showcase

Ambition Is Not Enough

Although Kwezi Mpuhlu is an incredibly ambitious man, he understands the difference between ambition and the solid hard work required to get the job done. "Ambition is a good thing, but it is not enough," says Kwezi, "it takes team work and good planning to achieve your goals." These are the words of one of MBSA Consulting's dynamic new partners.

Most of MBSA's projects are water and road related. "We tend to concentrate on rural access roads, rural water schemes and bulk water supplies. In all cases we make use of Civil Designer and AllyCAD to fulfil our design needs. We are also in the process of employing more students so that we can teach them how to use the program and thereby create additional backup staff for projects."

One of the ventures that MBSA is currently working on is the Hota-Mbewula bulk water scheme project. "We have just completed the preliminary designs for the water scheme and submitted these to the client. The idea is to make water accessible to rural areas, which means that there is a greater commitment towards spring water protection. This activity entails the collection of water from mountain springs and the construction of water purification reservoirs for reticulation purposes. The process requires no power as the entire procedure makes use of gravity. Once we have sized the pipes, we make use of AllyCAD to complete the design."

The bulk water scheme project was requested by the Chris Hane Dristrict Municipality and is estimated at a cost of R5 million. "Our appointment during this initiative involved the preparation of a business plan in accordance with DWAF requirements. This plan was presented electronically via an online web-based system. Other responsibilities on the project included a feasibility study, the scoping report, the construction license application as well as some water availability testing. We submitted the business plan in March 2004 and have since completed the project designs," explains Kwezi, adding that the construction phase is due to happen in July 2005.

According to Kwezi, one of the most challenging areas during the project's completion was community involvement. "When it comes to community involvement, your negotiation and presentation skills are tested to the maximum. It is not always viable to start a new venture without getting complete acceptance from the community. You therefore have to explain the benefits of the project and get the community to support it or else risk failure. The trick is to have good relations with the area ward councillor and to work very closely with them on any new venture."

Kwezi regards himself as one of Civil Designer and AllyCAD's greatest fans. "We use these programs in all our projects and I have no complaints. What I particularly like about Civil Designer is that you get everything you need in one package. We use the program for existing roads projects and tender for new road upgrades every three weeks. The surveys for road projects are done externally and the information is then used to determine the correct alignments for new access roads. We are currently working on a 10km road upgrade valued at R3 million, a project which will be child's play for a program like Civil Designer."

Fort Brown Bulk Water Supply
The Fort Brown bulk water supply project is a venture of a different kind. "This project was requested by the Makana Municipality in Grahamstown and is currently in its commission phase. The main aim of the project is to supply bulk water to rural areas, as households currently have to walk 200 metres just to get water. This situation is not viable at all, so people are very happy that the project is finally in place," explains Kwezi.
Hota-Mbewula bulk water scheme | MBSA Consultants

One of the project requirements specified the use of unskilled local labour. "The project was extremely labour intensive and helped the community with job creation. We used unskilled workers to help with the water supply and appointed a consultant to supervise the process. This arrangement turned out to be a win-win situation as community members were taught how to provide water for themselves and acquired much needed income and invaluable skills in the process," says Kwezi, adding that the feasibility test was conducted in January 2004.

Due to its sizable scope, the project was divided into two phases. "The first half of the assignment entailed the extraction of water from the river to portable purification plants. Water was then stored in containers and filtered through a chemical process. We started phase one in September 2004 and it has since been completed in February 2005. The total cost for phase one is R1 million."

Project environmentalists proved to be yet another challenge. "We had to submit a scoping report in order to conform to regulations. Some of the farmers fenced off a portion of their land, which meant that the construction team had to avoid this area completely. This led to numerous public participation and site meetings and we were watched very closely. But in every project one has to learn to rise above the challenges," says Kwezi positively.

"In phase two of the project we plan to build an agri village. Agri villages are smallholdings where community members are allocated small plots of land for grazing and services. The cost of phase two is estimated at R15 million and is likely to be completed in 2007.

Although Kwezi's last few years have been extremely eventful, his long-term goal remains modest. "I hope to graduate with my MBA at the end of 2005 and then pursue my Masters in Engineering at the University of Cape Town. I would also like to learn as much as I can and continue to make a positive difference in my community," he says smiling with contentment.

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