Cape Town - The opposition Democratic Alliance has called on the new Public Works Minister, Geoff Doidge, to halt the Built
Environment Professions Bill, which has caused a major upsurge of feelings among the associations of professional engineers, resentful of the attack on their privileged positions.
According to Sydney Opperman, the bill will regulate the built environment professions to promote growth and transformation and promote and maintain the standards of education and training in the built environment profession. But
Opperman reckons it will have many undesirable consequences for South Africa's economy, for the provision of services and for the rollout of housing.
Under the bill, a body to be known as the South African Council for the Built Environment (SACBE) will be established. But the creation of this body will see the relegation of existing councils, including the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA), to the status of being mere professional boards. This is a complete contradiction to international best practice, in which professional bodies such as those for engineers, architects, property valuers and quantity surveyors are self-regulating.
"This bill also gives the Minister of Public Works far-reaching powers to arbitrarily exempt certain individuals or groups from the registration process," Opperman said on Monday. "To compound the negative effect, the Minister of Public Works, who is not an engineer, can even intervene in the development of the engineering educational syllabuses," Opperman said.
"The wide-ranging powers given to the minister have been justified on the grounds of the need to transform the engineering profession. According to the ECSA, however, this is not necessary, as the profession has started the process
of transformation without the government's interference."
In its submission, the ECSA states that 56% of all the professional engineers registered over the past three years had been previously disadvantaged individuals. Black professionals dominated the registration of electrical engineers by 61% between 2005 and 2008.
- I-Net Bridge