Civil Designer Showcase

Never A Dull Moment

"There is never a dull moment here," says Dirk Reed, Acting Chief Engineer at the Roads & Stormwater department of the City of Windhoek. "Each day presents a unique set of challenges that constantly tests your planning and people management skills." Dirk's role is extremely varied. He is responsible for the supervision of the Roads & Stormwater Division and oversees all geometric road designs.

"I liaise with both internal departments as well as external consultants on a regular basis and provide constant input on stormwater services. I also manage township development contracts and oversee the sewer and water services for various contracts up to the completion of township services. To me, my most important priority is to ensure that every single project specification has been met and that the work delivered is of a high quality," notes Dirk.

The management of the tender process follows a logical and systematic sequence. "We start the process by placing the tender on record so that consultants may view the content. The Terms of Reference relevant to the tender is issued next and consultants are then invited to submit their financial and technical proposals applicable to the project. Submissions received are evaluated according to the specified criteria and the best three financial proposals are chosen."

"In all instances financial and technical tenders are opened in the presence of the consultants to ensure fairness and transparency. Once the tender has been awarded, the consultant submits a draft report with proposed drawings. At this stage, we are able to advise on any changes and amendments to the draft before approving the document in principle. The consultant then updates the document and resubmits it for final sign off," explains Dirk as he summarises the procedure.

"We took the decision about a year ago to acquire the Civil Designer suite of computer software. The integrated, user-friendly package encompasses all the major disciplines from Sewer through to Roads and has the ability to detect service clashes. We are currently in the process of standardising our office on Civil Designer and have since requested all designs to be submitted in this format," says Dirk.

The management of stormwater erven is another interesting activity. "The purchase of stormwater erven without full services is far cheaper to install than a property that has fully constructed facilities.
  The greatest disadvantage with stormwater erven however, is that we have very little control over property owners when they erect stormwater services on their plots. As a result, we are often inundated with queries from residents when they are faced with flooding problems caused by the seasonal rains. After many heated debates however, it was decided that full stormwater systems would be installed by the City of Windhoek prior to offering the erven for sale."

Other ad hoc duties performed by Dirk include administrative issues like correspondence, following up on queries, compiling reports, advising on rezoning applications and budgeting for future developments and capital projects. Nearly all the structures that have been built in the City of Windhoek have passed through Dirk's desk for approval. "There have been cases where a client has appealed against an unfavourable decision made, but these cases are not many. In these instances the appeal is directed through to the Mayor's office," explains Reed.

Dirk recalls the various projects undertaken by the City of Windhoek and proudly announces the 2001 Ramatex Development as the most memorable project by far. "The small buildings are 200x76 metres in size, while the second massive building is 100x200 metres. This initiative is a Malaysian government concern that specialises in the export of clothing to America. We were responsible for the design of the platforms and supplied the factory with water and electricity. The textile development has created a total of 10 000 job opportunities for unskilled Namibians."

Dirk smiles as he summarises a day in the office: "When your cell phone rings, you are either faced with a crisis that requires immediate action, or you are called into a meeting to formalise the details of a project for tender purposes. The challenges are never-ending and each day is unique. I must however admit that my job is never boring and I thoroughly enjoy every minute in the day," he says smiling with amusement as his cell phone begins to ring.

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