Friday, December 18, 2009

Taking A Break

With the South African Building Industry having closed for Annual Shutdown and many of our colleagues having already taken leave from the 16th, what feels like a strange calm has descended upon the Association.

With the industry we service coming to virtual halt, as is tradition the Association will be closing its doors from December 23rd to Monday the 4th.

With leave schedules being what they are, this will be the last post of 2009 and both news Articles and Blog posts, will again commence in mid January 2010.

If you are driving over season take it easy, arrive alive, and be safe.

See You Next Year.

Ernest Roper

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hanging With Green Peace

Ever wondered what Greenpeace Activists do when they are not placing themselves in the way of grenade tipped harpoons whales and whaling ships, rumor has it that they like to hang around bridges.

The above photograph is of Green Peace activists rappelling themselves off a bridge in Pittsburgh for the purpose of making a political statement.

They were responsible for several massive banners seen around town conveying messages directed at G-20 leaders who had gathered in Pittsburgh for the September 24 summit, leaders representing 85 percent of the world’s economy.

While entering into the final stretch on the road to Copenhagen, the banners some 80 by 30-feet were intended to warn of political maneuvering, that had placed the prospect of an international climate treaty in jeopardy.

Ernest Roper

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Season’s Greetings From Marcia & Hans

Season’s greetings

Another year has flown by and festive season is upon us.

It’s been a year of having to endure tough economical times and we now give thanks for the successes we achieved during this difficult and challenging period.

We hope that you are as excited about the upcoming season as we are, heading into the much anticipated 2010 HOOPLA!!

I encourage all members to stand up for the Association, support us, encourage us, learn from us and journey with us. Be a team player and let us hold the umbrella together.

We take the opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a fun-filled festive season that exceeds all expectation.

Until then, all the best!!!

Hans & Marcia
Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal South Coast Office


Monday, December 14, 2009

India Tower, Mumbai

In a recent post “Green Building, The Darker side we focused on the alleged skullduggery surrounding the India Tower project in Mumbai. The gentleman doing the alleging is Abdul Hameed, who in a scathing on-line attack, makes reference to “developers of ill-repute who are nothing but the scum of this earth.”

Be this as it may, the India Tower in Mumbai is a hugely significant symbol of environmental responsibility in a country that desperately needs it. India is the world second most populous nation and according to Wikipedia is ranked 5th among the worlds worst polluters.

Scheduled for completion in 2010, the structure will be 60 storeys tall, 301 meters in height and will encompass 81900 square meters of multi-use space.

The towers various rotating blocks will serve different purposes which will include residential, office, retail and recreation. The design incorporates the use of solar shading, natural ventilation, daylight usage, rainwater harvesting and green interior finishes. The India Tower will ultimately be the greenest building in India and has already achieved the US LEED Gold rating.

Ernest Roper

Friday, December 11, 2009

The End of a Good Year

With respect to the Association, 2009 will probably be remembered as a year that ushered in a new era. There has been an exceedingly strong drive towards deliverables, with a team of people committed to the cause.

By deliverables we mean the implementation of projects and initiatives that enhance our service levels and augment our offering to both our members and the public. This year saw the launch of with its innovative Find-a-Builder module, plans for Greening of the Association were finalized and we also completed the shooting aspect of our SafeBuild DVD series, to name but a few.

To celebrate what was a very exciting year for us, on Friday the 4th of December 2009 the Association held its end of the year function for staff. For the morning part, there were 3 activities from which to choose before later convening for lunch at Moyo. There was the option of a boat ride round the harbour, a trip to the Durban Aquarium, or for the more adventures among us, the water rides at Ushaska Marine World.

With several outside companies also celebrating at the venue, a packed Moyo was especially vibrant making for an excellent experience. A big thank-you to all involved, for a memorable day out.

Ernest Roper


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Health & Safety Committee 2009

The Master Builders Health & Safety Committee recently held its last meeting for 2009 and celebrated afterwards with a traditional Christmas lunch.

Committee members who represent some of the key role players in the construction industry, worked hard throughout the year to promote the importance of safe working procedures by running Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Forums and inviting some of the industries top personalities, to brief members on OHS topics of interest.

It’s been an exciting year for KwaZulu-Natal members with the province having won 9 out of the10 awards at the MBSA National OHS Competition.

In closing I would like to thank the members of the committee, never before have I worked with individuals who have such passion for what they do, helping to save lives.

Elishya Abbu
Safety Coordinator


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Green Hotel in the Drakensberg

Cathkin Peak Area

Situated high up in KwaZulu Natal’s Cathkin Peak area, the Drakensberg Sun Lifestyle Resort is the first in the province to be awarded a Platinum environmental classification.

The custodian body is The Heritage Environmental Management Company which was formed to provide businesses with an effective environmental management and rating alternative. Their system incorporates the standards of seven international programmes with the goal being to reduce and limit the impact commerce has on the environment.

Most notably, Drakensberg Sun is the only operator in what is an environmentally sensitive area, to have had their impact independently assessed. It is also one of only three resorts in Southern Africa to have achieved this bench-mark classification.

Ernest Roper

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Greening Alterations 40 Essex Terrace

The site handover meeting pertaining to the greening alterations and additions to our Essex Terrace premises took place on Monday the 30th of November 2009.

Companies awarded the contract:
  • Bruce Clark Associate Architects - appointed as architect
  • Leigh - Hunt Louis Wanless - appointed as Quantity Surveyors
  • ARUP - appointed as engineers
  • LVE Construction - awarded the contract as main contractor
Areas that were discussed and agreed upon included:
  • Contract parameters
  • Insurances
  • Guarantees
  • Contractual matters
  • Access
  • Site Layout
  • Site Establishment and Preliminaries
  • Site Diary:
  • Site Security
  • Site Instructions
  • Information required and queries by contractor
  • List of subcontractors
  • Contractors Program
  • Compliance with OHS act and regulations
  • Consultants
  • Quantity Surveyor
  • Structural Engineer
  • Land surveyor
  • Safety agent
  • Electrical Engineer
  • Mechanical engineer
Association Executive Director Brandon Abdinor stated that one of the key objectives is for the Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal initiative to become recognized as the benchmark project for greening alterations within Southern Africa.

Watch This Space !!!!!!

Ernest Roper

Monday, December 7, 2009

Green Building, The Darker Side

India Tower Courtesy of

In doing some research on Green Buildings Breaking Boundaries I came across a blog called, which encompasses paragraphs pertaining to the worlds 15 greenest buildings. One of the projects given credence is the India Tower in Mumbai, which upon completion will according to its designers, be the greenest building in the country. informs us that the tower has been criticized for looking more like a stack of misaligned boxes, than an intelligently designed building. The author does however (and rightfully so) commend it for symbolizing much needed environmental awareness in the world’s second most populous country.

What really caught my attention though was that one Abdul Hameed, posted a scathing reply in which he accuses the developers of having used criminal intimidation and strong arm tactics. Hameed’s response was posted on April 26, 2008 at 7:41 am, and makes for real cloak and dagger reading:

“This is in respect to the much vaunted and discussed so called India Tower. I would like to avail of this opportunity to brief readers, pertaining to a brief background of the area, where the proposed tower is supposed to be built. Though contruction may have commenced , there are still some residential pockets existing who have not signed any agreement with Neelkamal or Balwas-Dynamix( developers); for handing of the their premises. There are still legal petitions pending in court , in respect to the area, which hitherto has been known as Diamond Jubilee Compound.

The Developers namely Salim Balwa, Adil Patel and Nabil Patel have mislead and duped the people of the above mentioned compound in acquiring the premises. They had promised to build an Educational institution , whereas in reality their intentions were in stark contrast to their professed statements . Balwas and Patel of Neelkamal have used professional ruffians(goondas) to get the land evicted of bonafide tenants, who had been residing in the area, for nearly 5 generations. They used criminal intimidation and strong arm tactics to get the land evicted of tentants. Both developers(Balwas and Neelkamal) time and again flaunted their political connections, in order to intimidate and subdue any opposition to their nefarious agenda.

They time and again cited their affinity to Sharad Pawar and Vinod Goenka to force people to comply . I was a resident of the said compound, but was compelled to vacate, much against my wishes as Salim Balwas and Nabil Patel used criminal intimdation against my family members, incuding ladies , to make me comply. Till date i havent signed any agreement with the Developers , pertaining to handing over of my premises and i am pursuing the matter through legal petitions in the courts. Readers please bear in mind that these Developers are no businessmen, but crooks and cronies of certain politicians of the worst order. Though ostensibly the Develepors are using the title of ‘Suresh Estate Pvt. LTD’ in reality it is Neelkamal and Balwas which is running the show.

The above mentioned property also falls under the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai as it is ‘waqf land meaning land which has been gifted to local muslims by the Muslim Trust of Nakhuda Rogay Trust. Also, it should be noted that these developers have exaggerated the caret areas of residential pockets in the above mentioned compound, in order to additional F.S.I., which is in direct contravention of established muncipal laws. in the deed of conveyance as signed between Suresh Estates and Neelkamal , Dymamix Balwas groups, the later have grossly inflated and maipulated the available carpet area. for eg: with respect to Baakzaa House which occupied 4500 sq. feet carpet, in the deed of conveyance the above mentioned builders nee croosk, have mentioned an area of 9500 sq feet.

Apart from this gross cheating and blatant manipulation, they had the temerity to submit totally bogus rent receipts and electricy bills of Baakza House, which will be presented for legal scrutiny as and when the time comes. We have sent e-mails in this connection to all reputed builders and government agencies in Maharashtra, so that they may be aware of the true colors of such developers of ill-repute, who are nothing but the scum of this earth.”

Wow Heavy Stuff ………..

Ernest Roper

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Construction at 40 Essex Terrace

Photograph: Josh Reid

Dear Members and prospective visitors to our Essex Terrace Building:

Please note that construction on Master Builders KwaZulu Natal Essex Terrace premises gets underway on Monday and will continue until 11 December 2009, at which point builders will take off for annual shutdown, returning on 11 January 2010. Upon their return, construction will continue for approximately 5 months thereafter.

It is envisaged that initial construction work will be the most disruptive in terms of access to various parts of the building and noise. We hope that life will slowly return to normal as the contract progresses.

In a recent news article published on Brandon Abdinor (Association Executive Director) made it known that we have resolved to use this construction work, as a platform to provide certain skills transfer and enterprise development opportunities.

Opportunities will probably include:
  1. Contractual training on the JBCC documents. The successful applicant will observe all aspects of the management of the contract relating to the JBCC document, site meetings and matters incidental thereto. The applicant will also be able to attend a formal JBCC training seminar and gain experience on all aspects thereof.
  2. Health and Safety. The successful applicant will observe all the Health and Safety activities relating to this contract and gain an opportunity to become familiar with Health and Safety best practice and legal requirements.
  3. Other technical aspects. There may be opportunities for the successful applicant to gain a degree of skills transfer on various of the construction aspects of the job.
For more information click through to news article Calls for Expression of Interest.

Ernest Roper

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CETA: Submission for Project Proposals

Throughout 2009, Master Builders KwaZulu-Natal encouraged members who are Skills Development Levy-payers to submit a Work Place Skills Plan. The Association assisted by having plans drawn up by our agency on behalf of members, at no charge. We were later happy to report that 37 of our members had received R221 350.80 in mandatory grants.

The follow up process to this has now arrived with CETA calling for Submission for Project Proposals. This is essentially a discretionary grant and whom the grants are awarded to, will be decided upon by the CETA Project Evaluation and Monitoring Committee on completion of an evaluation process.

In laymen’s terms if you have submitted your workplace skills plan, you can now request additional funding for supplementary training. Association Training Manager Victor Smith informs us that it is important to note, that should your funding request be granted, monies are paid directly into the account of the training provider on proof of training.

We have placed a “Call for Submission of Project Proposals” document on as a PDF Download, and notify that contrary to what the document says, the project proposal template is not yet available on CETA website. CETA have however informed us that they expect to have it up in the next couple of days.

Ernest Roper

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Concrete Industry Personalities

Cyril Attwell and Fanie van Tonder: recently published a news article in two parts that first appeared in “Concrete Trends” entitled “Classified Fly Ash Contributes to World-Class Gautrain Concrete. Concrete Industry personalities who feature in the article include Cyril Attwell and Fanie van Tonder:

Cyril Attwell
is research manager at Murray & Roberts (a BCJV partner). He is an analytical chemist by training and today a highly regarded concrete technologist and research scientist. Attwell estimates that he has done mix designs for 5 000 projects around the world, from shopping centres to dams and petrochemical facilities. The ARC technology being used for Gautrain was also applied at a Murray & Roberts precast sleeper factory at Beit Bridge. “We reached a 0,38 water:cement ratio using an expensive superplasticiser and moved to 0,5 with ARC achieving the same strength. The technology has enormous potential,” comments Attwell. “Synergy and balance between components is the key.”

Fanie van Tonder
is precast yard manager for Bombela Civils Joint Venture. Previously a Group Five director, he was involved in building Sasol 2 and 3 at Secunda; mines for Iscor and platinum companies, and has worked in Iraq, Ghana, Angola (petrochemical project in Luanda) and Kabinda, DRC (a major oil and gas separation project). While he has experience with most building materials, he loves concrete and has a keen eye for quality.

Ernest Roper