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This has been a challenging year for us all personally and professionally.

I am extremely proud of the way everyone in Mariswe embraced the changes that were forced upon us by Covid-19. Our teams around South Africa and further afield showed that they could be flexible when it came to isolated working conditions and no face-to-face contact with their colleagues and clients.

On the other hand, without exception they remained firm on quality. We do not compromise on quality. And we kept that promise to our clients throughout lockdown.

We had a few Covid-19 infections among our staff, but I am pleased to add that those infected have recovered to full health. It has been our intention that everyone in Mariswe looks out for their families first and foremost over this trying time. While most of us are now back at work, we continue to make every effort to observe all the Covid-19 health protocols.

The impact of the pandemic on our children worries me. In many ways the isolation forced on us by Covid-19 has impacted them most severely. Children need routine, social interaction, friends, and of course they need to learn. For Mariswe family is as important as work, and I wish strength and fortitude to all the parents among us as they guide their children through this period.

The news of vaccines gives us hope that even as we navigate this difficult time, solutions will be on hand. But we also know that it may be months before a vaccine is available for use. We must therefore remain vigilant and continue the mandatory protocols to stay safe.  We will get our lives back in good time.

Looking ahead

We have made some changes within Mariswe to adapt to the “new normal” and to ensure our sustainability in what will certainly be a difficult environment for years to come. We are excited about the potential of our new Strategic Projects Unit (SPU), launched this year alongside our traditional Transportation, Water and Sanitation, Structures, Management Services and Infrastructure Planning divisions.

The SPU seeks to provide integrated turnkey project solutions across multiple industrial and business sectors. There are some exciting projects under discussion with private sector clients and we look forward to developing this promising business model further in the new year.

The dialogue from the South African government remains strongly focused on infrastructure development as a provider of employment opportunities. We are encouraged by some detail starting to emerge on how the revitalized infrastructure investment plan aims to address historic underspending, revitalise the economy and save the construction industry. Already hundreds of projects with an investment value running into trillions have been earmarked and work is being done to fast track these through the system.

Adding to the positive news, South Africa’s third annual investment conference has attracted more than R100 billion in investment pledges and while this is less than 2019, it is certainly something to build on.

Project pipeline

While we are relieved to see more tenders coming out, tender evaluations are progressing at a snail’s pace and we hope this improves in the New Year to really get the ball rolling.

Mariswe is grateful to have been awarded and started work on some interesting and challenging new projects during the year. Among others, these include the Lobatse Water Supply project in Botswana; Flood mitigation in Newcastle, KZN; Municipal services for Sitibeni in Eswatini; Civil services in the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone; Township Economic Development Strategies Project as part of the Cities Support Programme; Road safety services for improvement of the R555 between Steynsdrift, Mpumalanga, and Steelpoort River in Limpopo; Visual evaluation and inventory data collection on the Western Cape Road Network;  Runway rehabilitation at Cape Town International Airport; Traffic impact assessment for a new municipal building in the City of uMhlathuze, KZN; Consulting services for new DOE schools in KZN; Output and performance-based road contracts (OPRC) in Zambia and Rwanda; and Consulting services for seven bridges in Sierra Leone.

The year 2021 is full of promise as Mariswe will be catching up on achieving plans that were put on hold in 2020. The effort we have put into business development throughout this year and the work we have in hand give me and the Mariswe team great confidence for the year ahead.

I thank you all for your commitment to the company and I applaud you for standing tall and withstanding the challenging circumstances of this year. You have juggled many responsibilities including children at home, working remotely and dealing with lockdown restrictions, and still you have kept Mariswe going strong.

I believe with this dedicated team we will produce great things in 2021 and beyond.

Thank you to our existing clients for your continued support and to our new clients for putting your faith in us. We are here because of you and for you.

While it has been said many times before, I believe Covid-19 has brought not only challenges but also a sense of community that extends through all our business associations. That bodes well for future collaboration to rebuild our economy and our country.

Wishing all a safe, happy holiday period and a much improved 2021.

Nonkululeko Sindane