Civil Designer Showcase


Jacky Tjijendeke-Mukuka initially decided to pursue her Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Namibia. This only lasted a year as the qualification was too broad and according to Jacky not specialised enough. When the opportunity arose to study Civil Engineering at the University of Witwatersrand, she grabbed it with both hands and hasn't looked back since.

In many instances, it was the Namibian Roads Authority that provided the landmark break in Jacky's career. The study bursary received from the Swedish International Development Agency came via the Namibian Roads Authority. It was also at the Roads Authority that Jacky acquired valuable experience, working her way up from the roads maintenance division to become an Engineer in the Road Management System Department.

Jacky's role in the department is varied. One of her core responsibilities is the facilitation of the road management system at the Namibian Roads Authority. "The system has been built with many sub-systems and allows civil engineers to extract vital information in order to make informed decisions on road infrastructure, pavement maintenance and asset management issues," explains Jacky.

According to Jacky, the purpose of an effective road management system is to identify problem areas so that they can be communicated to divisions for planning purposes. "Network planning has to commence if a project requires major work. Project teams therefore perform visual individual assessments on roads so that the information can be input into the system before problems can be identified. This means that the system is customised to suit the needs of Namibia's roads."

Although Jacky performs more of a supporting role in the civil engineering discipline, her input is instrumental in delivering quality projects. "The information that we are able to extract helps the roads maintenance and construction teams to make decisions. It is therefore vital to ensure that information is up to date and accurate at all times. In order to achieve this, we have regular feedback sessions with divisions so that we can accumulate information on the ground. Information also helps the organization to make informed and correct budgetary decisions and provides a means to substantiate requests to the Road Fund Administration when requesting funds for projects," she says.
  Part of Jacky's internal service involves performing quality checks and ensuring that technicians and technical assistants adhere to minimum requirements. Jacky's description of the system is succinctly summarised with the following: "the road management system identifies problem areas in the roads network. These problems are then flagged and discussed with the relevant divisions. Action lists and priority levels are then assigned and quality checks carried out during implementation. From here a joint decision is taken on whether to do in-depth feasibility studies."

The Namibian Roads Authority has a fair amount of interaction with consulting engineering firms because larger projects are outsourced to them. Other rehabilitation projects like the road from Aus to Rosh Pinah, the Ondangwa / Oshikango road, the Outapi via Tsandi to Okahao road in the North and the Opuwo to Omakange roads projects were all undertaken jointly with consultants.

"We acquired Civil Designer in 2005. There is no other software that compares to it. I feel as if I have an advantage over other engineers because I understand how to use the software. Civil Designer's roads module helps me to detect problem areas in road rehabilitation and maintenance projects. The program is loaded with SABS standards and allows for quick calculations to check for clashes. It has been instrumental in assisting with quality checks. The Engineering Council has confirmed that a civil engineer can only be involved with quality checks if they are able to perform the design function themself."

"I feel very privileged to have been involved in all aspects of civil engineering. I have moved from the maintenance department where I was involved in actual projects, to performing hands on services on site, to finally being involved in the facilitation of the roads management system. Civil Engineering is a broad field but I fell in love with roads infrastructure in particular. I believe that we have an excellent roads network system in Namibia and being part of the quality process makes my role in this capacity all the more worthwhile." Jacky Tjijendeke-Mukuka is a woman of great vision and her passion for roads is evident in the enduring commitment she displays.

image Jacky Tjijendeke-Mukuka is a civil engineer at the Namibian Roads Authority. Her passion for roads infrastructure led her to further her academic studies in the discipline. She is currently in the final stages of completing her Masters qualification at the University of Pretoria and aims to specialise in Transportation at a later stage.

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